Why? Why Not!

Betty Gebre - Ecuador


July 10, 2012

“Why would you want to waste a year of your life?” is a response I often get when I present the fact that I will be taking a gap year. For a while I did not understand why people were not open to the idea that a teenager would actually be eager to take a gap year to learn about the world she lives in, the world where in a short couple of years, she would be expected to lead.

Then, it hit me when I was looking at a pair of Toms. Toms are shoes that are comfortable and fashionable. The great part is that for every shoe you buy they give a shoe to a person who is in dire need of them.  I had always wanted a pair and at one point I was very determined to get them, but in my attempt I never got past the infatuation in my head. Yes, Toms did advertise themselves well; the shoes offered a combination of charity and pleasure. So why had I never gone for it? Why was it so hard for me to press the checkout button since I had already clicked for the shoe to be in my shopping bag? Then, it hit me; I was not willing to take the risk. Will the shoe fit me? What if I am making a mistake? These were the questions that had always scared me away from clicking the checkout button. I preferred to go to a shoe store that actually guaranteed that I would like the shoes and that they would fit.

I realized that most of the adults I talked to had the same mentality about Global Citizen Year that I had about Toms. Their fear about Global Citizen Year was that it could actually result in my decision of not going to college at all. Even though they might have liked Global Citizen Year there was no guarantee that this program would secure my success in the future. When you think about it, neither does college. But the difference between college and Global Citizen Year is that college is a conventional route while Global Citizen Year is a program that is new and unusual.

Global Citizen Year would allow me to serve as an example of how although conventional is safe, unconventional does not necessarily mean danger.  After all, it is when we do things out of our norm that we experience and live life to the fullest. They say I am foolish, a dreamer, or a child, but at the end of the day I know that it is when you take the greatest risk that you get the greatest satisfaction and that, for me, is enough.

Betty Gebre