Hello everyone! My name is Neil Singh. I’m from the Blue Mountain area but I grew up in Allentown Pennsylvania. I spent much of my early life learning new things, reading and enjoying nature. I would spend hours outside running around, chasing squirrels and climbing trees. My parents moved to Allentown when I was 12, to a place where there wasn’t much space to run or all that many trees to climb. It was a dreary place, true enough. Billy Joel wrote a song about how boring Allentown was a while back, but I made some great leaps in my education and some steadfast friendships throughout my journey at Parkland High School. I enjoyed learning but I found that the classroom environment was not of much help. Most of the actual skills I learned where outside of school, when I had time to myself.
As I progressed in school I was not sure what career path I wanted to follow, or even what major, but I found one of my greatest passions: rugby. The only other sport I was decent in was track, and only because I was in good shape. I had finally found my calling. The sport pushed me harder to become a better person, not just a better athlete. I felt that when I grew as a player, I grew as an individual. It taught me that fear is both a great motivator and obstacle, and to vault over it you must forget yourself. Every time I stepped on the field a sense of pride and utter joy filled me, and I have never forgotten the way it feels.
Eventually my passion for the sport earned me a spot on the state team, and a chance to try out for the national team. I had not, however, forgotten my other passion. I truly loved nature and being in the outdoors. I knew that if I had gotten this far with rugby, why not make it the same with my love for the environment? Around the middle of my senior year I decided that this too would be a great path to follow. I wanted to serve and protect nature’s beauty because I could find no greater joy from anything else, aside from being on the pitch. I soon realized that I would be going off to college and I was excited to start this new part of my life, but I felt like something was missing. I had been in school for 12 long years, and I had never taken a step out into the real world. I was sheltered from everything that my classes had supposedly prepared me for. Not only that, I realized that if I continued on my current path, I would never truly be able to make a difference in the world for a very long time. I wanted so badly to do something worthy, to make something of myself before I joined all of the other kids going off to college. Then I found Global Citizen Year and I knew right away this was the opportunity of a lifetime that I thought might be altogether lost.
When I was accepted into the program and told that I would be going to Ecuador I was ecstatic. I knew this was my chance to change things for the better and feel the impact of my efforts. I would also be able to see what the environmental science field would be like, and the multitude of career options available as I embarked on this journey. Spanish had come to me very easily as a second language and I loved Latin American cuisine, so I was ready to be immersed in a culture that I had only just begun to understand.
I hope you enjoyed my story, and I’m looking forward to posting more blogs. I had never done this before but it feels good to let other people know about me. I’m a simple man with simple pleasures, but big dreams. And I’m very much looking forward to this upcoming year.