Everyday I think back on my Global Citizen Year experience. I find that my thoughts, words, and actions are results of year and a program which guided me to grow in ways I never knew possible.
I spent my year living in Senegal in the Kedougou region. I had a wonderful host family who were excited to show me their world. In my education apprenticeship I established an art program at the elementary school and assisted in English classes at the middle school. I progressed in my study of the French language and learned a new language, Pular (a language I didn't even know existed until joining the program, wild thought, right?).
What is vital to understand about Global Citizen Year is that when you return home you will perhaps be able to produce a succinct list of what you did, as I have above, but what you will crave to share is who you have become, the realizations about the world, the thoughts you've had and the choices you've made.
Global Citizen Year does a fantastic job in providing the structure to support and guide you to accomplish exterior and personal goals. I entered the year hoping to get some work done, start programs, learn languages. Global Citizen Year was happy to help me take action, but simply paused and asked for my thoughts as well.
I learned to actively build relationships with my host community, host family, and within the cohort I traveled with.
Global Citizen Year does not have an agenda of values or skills it wants to give you, Global Citizen Year provides the structures and means to define and achieve your own personal value, skills, and goals.
While considering the program, do not overlook the undeniable beauty of the four countries: Senegal, Brazil, India, and Ecuador. Although I am partial to Senegal, as my own host country, the stories fellows brought back from all the other countries increased my desire to visit those countries as well.
The ability to live as a member of a family in a foreign country, to learn about culture and language from the very people to whom that language and culture is as natural as breathing is invaluable.
It is a once in a lifetime opportunity that will open the door to many more once-in-a-lifetime experiences.