Here is a picture of me (and my friend Talia) on my high school graduation night, just over two months ago:
But let’s rewind a bit to before my last year of high school came to an end. . .
The most frequently asked question for us high school seniors is: “Where do you want to go to college?” At most family events and often at school, this is the question we have to answer. For me, it was a little different, because pretty early in my senior year, I received this postcard in the mail:
Since I already knew this was what I wanted to do, it didn’t take me long to accept the offer and join Global Citizen Year. This led to a slightly different question: “What are you doing for your gap year?” So far, the only concrete answer I have is that I will be traveling to Ecuador to do a service-based apprenticeship for eight months. Even with this little bit of information, I am fortunate enough to have a lot of support from family members and friends about my decision to take a gap year. That being said, my vague description of what’s to come has bred a lot of confusion for everyone (including me).
I’ve noticed that my friends and family seem perplexed and a little apprehensive when I tell them that I’m going to Ecuador but I don’t yet know where I’ll be living, who I’ll be living with, or what I’ll be doing there. Some may think I’m crazy (especially my grandma) for agreeing to join a program with so many unknowns. Yes, I may be a little crazy, but personally, this is the most exciting part to me. Most people ask me if I’m nervous to have no idea what the next eight months will be like. To be completely honest, I’m not nervous – the ambiguity of the program is really thrilling and important to me. I like to think of it as my first experience out of my comfort zone and into the “stretch zone”, a concept Global Citizen Year uses to promote individual growth and development. It teaches us to embrace uncertainty and to be open to new experiences. At this stage in my life, almost everything is an unknown. One day I might want something, but within a couple years, or days (let’s be honest), I could change my mind. This is the age for experimentation, learning, and growth. And none of these things are likely to happen if I follow a rigid, predetermined path.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge planner. Anyone close to me knows that I love structure and am obsessed with organization (see picture below), but I would like to imagine that you can love these things, and still welcome spontaneity and adventure.
The next question I’m usually asked is: “Why do you want to take a gap year”. There are numerous reasons that make me feel this is the right path for me, but the short answer is I want to change things up. I’ve spent 12 years learning from textbooks in a classroom. Instead of going straight to four more years of the same type of learning, I want something different. More stimulating, perhaps. I aspire to gain more knowledge and awareness of global challenges by seeing them with my own eyes instead of reading about them. Also, one of my biggest goals is to become fluent in another language. I believe that Global Citizen Year will give me the opportunity to accomplish this and much more before I even begin my freshman year at the University of Pittsburgh.
On that note, I could not be more eager for this year to begin. I’m ready for Ecuador to excite, shock, inspire, and change me.
Thank you for reading my first blog! I look forward to writing more updates and stories from my trip throughout the year.