Hi! My name is Caroline Blanchard. I am 17 years old and I have never been out of the country. Well, not really anyway. And now I am about to leave on a 9-month adventure in Senegal that I never pictured myself going on.
The summer before my senior year, I was sitting at a picnic table at a kids’ birthday party when a woman I didn’t know came over and sat next to me. We chatted for a while about who I was, who she was, school, etc. Going into my senior year, people always questioned my plans for the following year, and I always responded with “college.” Usually a perfectly acceptable answer, but this conversation was different. This woman suggested that I think about traveling and seeing the world before adulthood set in. She spoke about this topic with such passion, and I agreed with her, who wouldn’t want to see the world? It was a nice idea for that moment in time, but I never thought about it again until it was time for me to start filling out college applications.
The college application process was the greatest example of procrastination that I have ever seen myself do. My family noticed my lack of enthusiasm, which led to my mom casually suggesting a gap year. Then, everything clicked. I found Global Citizen Year and in my gut I knew that I wanted to travel and help others in whatever ways they need. Despite all my fears and nerves, I knew that I could take this leap. I am still unaware of just what I am getting myself into but hopefully I can turn the dreams of a woman sitting on a picnic bench into a reality that I will never forget.