So Long, Farewell

“Actually, I will be spending next year in Ecuador…”

This Thursday at 7:00 AM, I will climb onto a shuttle bus with 50 other Fellows, my duffel and backpack packed under the bus, and depart Stanford University for the airport. We will all check in together. We will all go through security together. We will all kill time together. We will all fly to Ecuador together. That fact is, what has brought me close to 93 other high school graduates who have stepped out of the assembly line that leads to college and the “typical” course of life.

I have spent these last eight days, my last days in the U.S., with my Global Citizen Year Cohort, both at a conference center in the Redwoods and in the dorms at Stanford University. Eight days ago, I didn’t know a single one of them (even the boy who lives one town over from my own). Today, I prepare to say goodbye to almost half the cohort as we depart for Brazil, Senegal, and Ecuador, and it brings tears to my eyes. In eight days, I have told these people my secrets, told them my fears, and told them my life story. In eight days, these people have told me their secrets, told me their fears, and told me their life story.

Only eight months ago, I could not have imagined meeting this many intelligent, open-minded, trusting, trustworthy, and aware teenagers in one place. I would have told you that I was going to college next year. Maybe NYU or CC or Oberlin, but I still hadn’t gone through the process of college application. Luckily, I had added one extra application to the pile. And throughout the end of the year and summer, I happily explained to my friends and family that I would be taking my next year away from school. Away from textbooks, dorms, college parties, and my friends. My response to being asked where I would be going to school next year became rehearsed from over-use.

And now, I am finally embarking on that adventure southwards. I can’t say that I will change the world, or even Ecuador. I can hope that I affect some individual lives, but more importantly, that those individuals affect my life in colorful, mind numbing, and question-inducing ways.

If you would like, I can receive mail for the month of September ONLY here:


Leah Mesh-Ferguson

Global Citizen Year c/o EIL

Hernando de la Cruz N31-37 y Mariana de Jesus

Quito, Ecuador

I will update everybody with a new address once I know what it is!