I believe I first became interested in international development in the third grade when I accompanied my mother on a trip to volunteer in a school in Nicaragua. Although I did not yet understand or have the words for the concept of international development at that young age, I realized that I had a passion for supporting others, traveling, and experiencing new cultures firsthand.
These passions became an important part of who I am, and the summer before my senior year of high school I spent two months in Mexico living with a host family and organizing a community project to build eco-friendly cookstoves. During my summer, the idea of taking a gap year before college began to form in my mind. I knew I wanted to study international development in college, and a gap year seemed like a great way to gain practical learning that a classroom could not provide, and experience to help me decide which aspects of international development I wished to focus on in the future.
When Molly came and gave a presentation about Global Citizen Year at my school, the program sounded like a great way to spend my year off. It offered just the right amount of cultural exchange, independence, and volunteerism, topped off with a dash of idealism.
Now, with only two months before I leave for this adventure I can sum up all my emotions into one word: excitement. Although I am sure that the coming year will be filled with many challenges, I believe the experience will be an overall positive one, allowing me to enter college with some direct experience in what I plan to study. I can only speculate how often I will laugh, cry, stumble and pick myself up this next year, but I know for sure that I go into this adventure with an open mind ready to build new relationships, immerse myself in a new culture and learn new skills in a completely different environment.