A year abroad

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 My name is Beth Warren and I am a recent graduate of Chiefland High School. Instead of going to college in the fall, like a lot of my peers, I will be going to Ecuador, South America. 

How did I go from looking for colleges to South America? It was a struggle. As I searched for a college I went back and forth over what I wanted to major in, to finally deciding on taking a year off from school. This was not a popular decision with some of my family or my teachers, but I knew I didn’t want to go straight to college. Actually, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. 

What I did know is that during this year I didn’t want to sit around and waste time. In September 2010, I was sitting at the computer and while on Facebook (wasting time) I noticed an icon that read “college can wait.” 

With my interest clearly piqued, I clicked on it and discovered Global Citizen Year (GCY). GCY is a nonprofit international organization that began in 2009. Its goal is to allow the world and its diverse cultures to be the classroom for an entire year. Its mission is to go prepare a new generation of Americans to provide effective and innovative leadership to address the global challenges of the 21st century.

They do this by recruiting a diverse group of high school graduates, train them in intensive programs in the U.S. and abroad, support them through apprenticeships in Africa and Latin America, during a bridge year between high school and college, and then sustain a network of alumni who remain engaged in global issues during college and beyond.

 That night I looked into the program, watched videos and read all the information on their website. I knew then that this was what I wanted to do, so I began the long application process. This began in September and involved filling out a lengthy application, getting references from different people in the community and school, and interviewing over Skype and the phone. 

At the beginning of June, I got the phone call that I was accepted as a GCY Fellow. A Fellow is what they call all those accepted into the program. There are about 57 of us from all over the country that are involved in the 2012 GCY class. Along with being selected I also received a full-paid scholarship for $26,000. 

There are three host countries that we could have possibly been sent to, Ecuador-South America, Brazil-South America, and Senegal-Africa. I am going to Ecuador. 

Over the summer we were challenged to each raise $2,000 for GCY. This was to help prepare us with communication skills, getting out in the community, and working on our fundraising abilities. On Aug. 15, with a lot of tears and long hugs from my family, I flew out to San Francisco, Calif. I stayed at Stanford University for a two-week intensive training course. In September, I went to Quito, Ecuador, where I lived with my first host family for in-country training that lasted for about a month. Next, I will be sent to my second host family, either in the Andes or near the Amazon, where I will start my apprenticeship. I will live and work in Ecuador until April, then in April I will go back to Quito for country re-entry. This is to help prepare us for another round of cultural shock. 

I will then go back to California for another week, and finally had back to Chiefland on April 21. 

This summer I went from business to business, asking for donations for GCY. I almost reached my goal of $2,000. 

I want to say a special ‘thank you’ to businesses and individuals who donated. 

If anyone wants to give and you didn’t get the chance, you can still donate while I am gone. If you would like to help me change the world, then go to the GCY website and donate on my blog using PayPal. 

Even if you can’t donate, you can still follow me on my GCY blog and stay updated on what I’m doing while in Ecuador. 

Everyone has the potential to do something great in life, what will you do?

Elizabeth Warren’s blog can be found at this link: http://globalcitizenyear.org/author/elizabeth-warren/