This year has been a constant cycle of goodbyes— starting off by leaving our family and friends to start off our adventure in Stanford. This cycle continues as we prepare to say goodbye to our communities, new friends, host families, and apprenticeships that we have experienced for the past eight months.
During high school, I had my mind set on a certain plan for my life— graduate and go directly to a four-year University. But then I heard about Global Citizen Year and it changed my path drastically. Some of my family members said it was a big mistake taking time off of school, but this “mistake” has been the best decision I have made. It’s impossible to put the beauty and challenges of my experiences into words, but my gap year has been a journey of personal development and growth.
I completely uprooted my life in Laguna to start a new one in Ecuador. I tearfully hopped on a plane and kept questioning why I decided to do this. My first few weeks in Ecuador were filled with homesickness and unfamiliarity. Eight months seemed like an eternity to be away from my friends, family, and home. Within time I adapted and began to experience the thrills and challenges of living in a new culture. Now, the days fly by. Just as I got used to my “new home” it is time to go. It seems surreal that I will be back in California in a matter of days, and to be completely honest I am really nervous. I am nervous to say goodbye to the people that have become my best friends and family, that have been such a big part of my life for the past eight months. People told me it would be really hard to go, but no one told me it would be twice as hard to leave. Things and people back home have changed, whether I am aware of it or not and it will be challenging to adjust to this coming back. Concurrently throughout these months, I have changed, and I might not realize it now, but back home these changes will become more apparent.
If someone would have told me that I would make so many meaningful connections and friendships in Ecuador, I would not have believed it. The goodbyes that I will have to make are going to be painful but will give me closure to a meaningful experience and allow me to start the next phase of my life. No matter how many times you say goodbye it never gets easier, but it makes it a little less painful to know that these goodbyes are stepping stones to the next experience that follows. I am going to enjoy my last few days in my community and although I’m sad to leave I am so grateful for the amazing friendships and memories I have made here. I am very proud of myself for saying yes to this adventure. It has not been easy, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.