It’s been a week since I left Montreal for San Francisco, and these 7 days have been like heaven on Earth: I met a 120 amazing people from all around the world and experienced California like never before! For the first part of the week we stayed in the Redwoods, and the imposing silhouette of these massive trees both humbled me and reminded me of Pearson College. However, nostalgia didn’t last long, because I quickly realized that the individuals that had signed up for this adventure had the same thirst for knowledge and new cultures as I did. Through workshops designed to drive us away from the “white man savior” complex and make understand that the most important difference we can make in our host countries is to listen, observe and learn, our global cohort thrived and became like a family. I went on runs, played kabaddi and (of course) Ultimate Frisbee, had deep conversations, shared moments, laughed around the fireplace, stayed up late and jammed out at a makeshift talent show. I felt pure excitement, and this feeling grew in me when we transitioned to Stanford University.
Having the chance to stay at one of the, if not the best, higher education institution in the United States was again deeply humbling and full of surprises. We had very influential speakers who came to share their view of the world to provide us with different perspectives to explore during our bridge year, and some, like Kiva founder Premal Shah and Google senior vice president Kent Walker provided insightful and controversial opinions. We also performed a division of social class during diner, and it made me realize how eradicating poverty is an issue that is even more complicated than I thought, reinforcing the idea that as students, the best we can do it listen and soak in what we see to drive us in our future careers. Things also went down for two night in a row! During the first evening on campus, a group of us ended up playing a pick-up Ultimate game on a synthetic lawn where we were quickly joined by two giant basketball players from the university. The second night was even wilder; we organised a fraternity house party in one of our residence, and we dance for the whole at the rhythm of Senegalese, Ecuadorian, Indian and Brazilian music!
And now, after two days of travelling from San Francisco to Quito, we all have finally met our first host families, and I surprised myself by having a 5 hour long conversation with all of them. Damn, I even jammed with one of their son! This eerie first evening in the pais de la mitad del mundo made me realize how communication is actually more than words, but a set of feelings that if one is ready to receive, can travel beyond the barrier of language and culture.