I was raised in the “adventure stroller.” A pink, blue, and green conglomerate of lightweight plastic, it was the vehicle of choice by which my 4’11, volcano climbing, Guatemalan grandma fiercely edged through the crowds of Washington, D.C. to show her first female grandchild life beyond suburbia. While my kindergarten classmates headed to ballet recitals and Girl Scout events, we folded the Adventure Stroller and took the metro downtown. L’Enfant’s masterpiece became my unconventional playground. We read every inscription in the Natural History Museum, watched each I-MAX film at the Air and Space Museum multiple times, tasted international pastries on Embassy Day, and interviewed passing travelers at Union Station. Trips to the Supreme Court yielded aspirations of leadership and visits to crafts festivals in support of fair trade organizations inspired social responsibility and globalism.
But what made trips in the Adventure Stroller exciting were not the final destinations, but the conversations which brought us there. No topic served as too complex or unpleasant for my ears; homelessness, war, medicine, travel, and politics frequented our journeys. With passion, I was expected to convey my opinions. Any time I asked a thought provoking question or posed a challenge, I was rewarded with a cookie which came from the Adventure Stroller’s matching cooler.
I share with you this childhood anecdote because as I reflect on the collection of moments which have influenced my decision to take a Global Citizen Year, spending seven and a half months in Senegal and delaying the typical university route, I can’t help but think that an early entrance into the global conversation molded me into the person I am today, a person for whom this kind of choice is simply second nature.
The Adventure Stroller showed me the power of experiential learning, of storytelling, of thinking big. The Adventure Stroller taught me the value of activism, academia, questioning. The Adventure Stroller set me up to be the girl for whom a visit to UN headquarters sounds more appealing than a stroll down 5th Avenue, the girl who when asked “would you like to study French or Spanish?” counters, “why not both?”
Due to the loving burden of excessive use, the Adventure Stroller has since collapsed. Yet its strong moral fabric, passionately navigated handles, and wheels which traveled the capital of the free world live on within me. Thus as I move on, bearing the Adventure Stroller in mind, I pledge to laugh with those who need a smile, work for those who need a laborer, and never forget for those in need of a storyteller to share their words. My lungs will breathe reflection; my fingers will weave a global tapestry which will unveil before my eyes a world so different yet similar to my own. “Global Citizenship” is not a one year “check mark,” I, of a wanderlust filled body and forever analyzing mind, am committed to serve for life. Thank you for supporting my journey. I look forward to the infinite amount of both challenges and celebrations, every day occurrences and milestones alike which lie ahead.