In this moment the world beyond seems of distant happening. Reality slowly seeps into the now. All ideas, all thoughts, all preconceptions about what I know will be challenged and tried. In a few weeks’ time my life as I know it will change. I welcome this experience and I have chosen to embrace uncertainty.
I have been asked many times throughout these past several months on why I made the decision that I did. In all honesty, I am putting college off. I am postponing a formal education and supplanting it with a global one. A bridge year seems frightening, almost as if I’m veering off the college track altogether, but in reality the path that I have chosen, is a path of self-realization and discovery of passions. I seek adventure and new experiences unbound by the confines of a classroom.
With this in mind the final week of August has been one of the most transformative of my life. With an 8 month bridge year looming, I along with nearly 80 other fellows took on the uncertainty that stems from the unknown. Our first destination was a five day journey into the giant imposing Redwoods of Northern California. These trees command a presence as their roots burst from the soil beneath. They are standing reminders of humility, actualization, and symbols of journeys taken. No two journeys are ever the same regardless of origin. The time I spent with the entire cohort only further reinforced this belief.
During my time in the Redwoods I met some of the most diverse people I have ever come to know. The 2016 Global Citizen Year cohort is the most diverse cohort in the program’s history with fellows reigning from multiple continents of the world. With such diverse perspectives and ideas, it has become a process of “getting grounded” and realizing that my journey is only beginning.
After a short bus ride over the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco, we arrived at Stanford University. Spending several days at Stanford opened up new ways in which to reevaluate the world. There were various guest speakers ranging from authors to CEO’s of nonprofit organizations that enabled fellows to engage and actively consider their journeys ahead. It was at this juncture that I began to understand my purpose in this program. The concept of traveling to a foreign place no longer seemed seem so foreign. As a fellow it is my role not to change and manipulate the community that I’m placed into but rather to observe and empathize with people as they allow me into their lives. A plight of empathy will supersede one of sympathy.
What makes a bridge year so invaluable is the capacity for students, for individuals to develop passions, ideas, and sentiments about the world. Within the next year I hope to reaffirm and reject what I know about the world, however before I can do so, I must jump into the uncertainty that is a bridge year.