Where It All Begins – Communicating

Kyra Halpenny - Senegal


August 1, 2014

July 31, 2014 – Elko, NV, United States
For as long as I can remember I have been a traveler. For the last week my papa and I have been making the trek from Saskatoon, Canada to Fremont, California. Before that I drove the west coast to British Columbia, and that is just what I have done this summer. For crying out loud, the rough draft of this entry was written on a complimentary notepad from Holiday Inn. So for those who know me, going on an adventure like this is not anything new, but the rules have changed. There will be no returning to the luxuries of my California abode after a month of travels . . . I am going to be living in Senegal for 8 months, approximately 6,400 miles away.

Knowing this has led to deep thought on my part, especially with the knowledge that it will be nothing like California. In America we have been supremely privileged, but what do we really get out of them? Better paying jobs? Healthier lifestyles? Improved communication skills? Very often it seems like even though we have access, we don’t always take advantage.
Take for example our advanced technology, smart phones and tablets, which presents us with new ways to communicate. Yet, when it comes down to face to face conversation, we often shrink away, becoming less bold without the protection of our usernames and social media identities. Our dwindling vocabulary and abbreviations make what we say less meaningful, and the relationships we make, not as dear to our hearts.

Growing up I was always taught to speak with dignity and respect, both for myself and for those I was conversing with. Because of this it was often brought to my attention that I was an excellent communicator. This perplexed me when I was younger because I thought it was a lesson everyone was taught. To my dismay, I learned it was not. Then through the years, I learned how this really affected everyone in life. There were those who ranted without filters, those who spoke just to make a fool of themselves for other’s entertainment. With time I noticed a group of students that were often quiet, yet when they spoke they were well articulated. Over the course of high school we learned to listen and answer questions, as well as think for ourselves, but when given the chance to propose an idea or offer an opinion, most of us shut down.

As my 12th year of school progressed I noticed many who had started out willing to actively learn began to keep quiet. Hands stayed folded on desks, shoved in pockets or twiddling under the tables. Of course some were using their phones instead of paying attention, but what was the true cause of the students silence? Conformity. High school is the perfect example of everyone wanting to fit in. We become obsessed with being what others want us to be. We strive for an unhealthy body type, having the latest accessories and being everything that is considered fashionable now-a-days. The standards in high school are set so high by students, but it doesn’t last forever. We move on with our lives and that brings us to Global Citizen Year.

Over 90 graduates have decided that they will take their first year out of high school to make a difference and become globally competent. We have the opportunity to break free of the status quo and we can create our own idea of what we need to be. The world is beyond our state lines and oceans, and this is a once in a lifetime experience to see what life is like elsewhere. So for the next 8 months how we look should have no bearing on what we can accomplish. It is based on our intelligence, ingenuity, and ability to accomplish anything if we are able to set our mind to a goal, and if we work hard. Everyone who works with the program is meant to support us, and create a network during our endeavor. As a final note for this entry, I would like to invite you to stay updated on my trip by signing up for my blog, as well as giving your support by making a donation to our fundraisers. I can’t wait to get to Dakar and keep you in on the loop. Signing off. Kyra.

Kyra Halpenny