The Five W’s

Marisa Etzell - Ecuador


September 17, 2015


The purpose of this blog is to give a little more background information on why I am here in Ecuador and what led me to this point.

Who: You. Yes, you. If you are reading this, you are part of my story. While it was ultimately my decision to apply to this program and choose to take a bridge year, if it wasn’t for your love, guidance, and support throughout the process, I wouldn’t be here.

What: As many of you know, I have chosen to defer a year from college and take a bridge year. I repeat, bridge year. Global Citizen Year is unique in that it chooses to use the term “bridge” rather than “gap”; when you think of the word gap, it’s as if you’re falling into a hole, whereas a bridge connects the two sides and serves as a launching pad for the rest of your life.

When: Well, this journey technically began during my senior year when I applied to the program, and has been going on ever since. Once I was accepted, I began my first leadership challenge which was to raise $2500 towards the future fellows scholarship fund. Shout out to all of you who helped me reach my goal! I arrived in California on August 19th for a week long pre-departure training with the whole global cohort (meaning not only the people traveling to Ecuador, but also the people going to Brazil, Senegal, and India). I have been in Quito since August 27th for in-country orientation, and this Saturday (September 19th) I have a 10 hour bus ride to Cañar to meet my host family that I will be living with for the next 7 months.


Where: Ecuador! Specifically in the region of Cañar, in the small community of Deleg.

Why: Originally, my reason for doing this program was very selfish. My “why” was focused inward. One of the questions on the application was “what are three goals you have for your Global Citizen Year?”. I wrote that I wanted to:

  1. Develop lasting relationships with people who may not speak the same language as me,  but who I will be able to connect with whether it’s through a smile or a hug

  2. Become fluent in Spanish, or improve my current Spanish-speaking skills

  3. Find my passion/calling in life

I clicked submit on the application in the fall of my senior year. Since then, my “why” has constantly been changing. In fact, my reason for doing this program seems to change on a daily basis. And I’m going to be honest with you, sometimes I question myself and wonder why I chose to take a bridge year. There are times when I realize how easy it would have been to go straight from high school to college. But I have a sense of peace knowing that I am here for a reason and I don’t necessarily need to have a clear and definite answer to “why”. My “why” will continue to be formed throughout these next several months.

Marisa Etzell