My parents gave me the name Graham Collins. My first 18 years have been spent in Charlotte, North Carolina. I have grown up in the suburbs. Based on my position in the world, I am expected to behave and be respectful; work hard and make good grades; get into college and find a lucrative job; then work, raise a family, and die. So far, I’ve mostly done just that. So why am I going to Ecuador this year?
When I was younger, I would see women walking in my neighborhood. I remember thinking to myself, “Why walk when you can run?” This viewpoint is how I have generally lived my life. I focus on a task, attempt to be as efficient and effective as possible, and get the job done. I’ve been going down this path, running pretty quickly, for as long as I can remember. What I have realized is that running is not always the best way to go. Sometimes you miss better paths, and you often don’t notice and appreciate life the way that I believe we should.
Earlier today, I went on a run to exercise. I have a favorite route that goes out, circles a pond, and brings me back through some much appreciated shade. On this particular occasion, though, I started to really ask myself why I was running. I certainly didn’t enjoy it. I was just doing what I thought I should do. So, I started walking. It was the strangest thing. I started noticing cardinals and weaverbirds, and I was really enjoying my afternoon. A man passed me at a brisk jog, and he failed to notice a lovely doe eating by the creek. This is a key reason why I took my gap year. I’m not going to run through life this year. I hope to notice the beauty in other cultures. I intend to meet genuine, caring people. I want to have this one year that I know is well spent.
Why would I choose Global Citizen Year in particular? Global Citizen Year coordinates host families. Global Citizen Year offers excellent preparation and training before, during, and after the trip. Global Citizen Year will help me learn Spanish. The organization will help fit me into the perfect apprenticeship for my interests and goals. Global Citizen Year is led by some of the most awesome people I have ever met, and the other fellows never cease to shock and amaze me with how awesome and quirky they are capable of being. I cannot think of a more exciting prospect than taking a Global Citizen Year.