The Experience of a Lifetime

Emily Hanna - Senegal


July 11, 2011

Growing up, it seemed like every single one of my peers had a special talent; each friend had something they excelled at, something that set them apart from the rest. There were my athletic friends, my musical friends, my academically successful friends…but try as I might, I could never quite find the discipline that suited me. Not for lack of trying, however – I spent grades K-12 as involved as a person could reasonably be. But no matter what extracurricular I threw myself into (volleyball, dance, singing, violin, student government…) I was always relatively mediocre.  Academically, I excelled in the unquantifiable field of Humanities and left the tangible prizes promised by the science and math departments to be won by my fellow students.

For much of high school, I felt left in an unpleasant lurch; at the very time a young person is supposed to winnow down their interests into a single, defined career path (or, at the very least, a college scholarship), I was more confused and directionless than ever.  At perplexing times like these, I’ve always unwittingly turned to the one activity that made me feel useful, important, and full of purpose: volunteer work.

Fast forward to the present day, and I’ve finally found my calling. I know now that my talents lie in the fundamental categories of helping, caring, and sharing.  After spending some time teaching school in rural Cambodia last spring, I realized that not only do I excel at simple volunteer work, but that my heart belongs to global service. Why wait until after college to pursue my passion when I have access to a program like Global Citizen Year?  I can’t wait to spend the next year in Senegal – I know it will be the experience of a lifetime.

Emily Hanna