2014 Global Citizen
My Global Citizen experience with EF changed my life. It was a transformative, view-expanding opportunity. While the trip only lasted two weeks, I will never forget the memories and friendships I made. When my group of scholars and EF guides was assembled, our lives were forever changed.
After I was awarded a 2014 Global Citizen Scholarship to travel to China, I was ecstatic and just a little nervous. I was going on a globe-crossing trip with almost twenty people I had never met. What if we had nothing in common? Could we have a successful two weeks if we did not get along? Fast forward to our first meeting in Los Angeles, and it took about an hour before knowing we were all going to be fast friends. As we explored the Santa Monica pier and beach, ate local chocolates at our hotel, and crowded around the same table at dinner, we bonded as quickly as anyone could.
The trip through Shanghai and Beijing, as well as our time at the EF Leadership Summit, solidified our new friendships. During the leadership event, we would check in with each other during any free time to compare conference experiences. We had such elevated conversations I often forgot that I had just met these people earlier in the week. To have people unconditionally support you and listen is rare, even in old friendships. During our tours, through the lively and historical Chinese cities, we helped one another barter with shopkeepers, learned small bits of Mandarin, and played card games after dinner. I felt as though I was on an educational vacation with my very best friends.
When the time came for us to return to the United States, we were as sad to depart China as we were to leave each other. On the bus ride to the airport, we wrote “yearbook entries” on notebook paper to detail how much our new friendships meant to us. I cried at the California airport when we had to go our separate ways. Thankfully, over the past few years, we have been able to have many meet-ups across the country.
Applying for the EF Global Citizen Scholarship was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It bolstered my self-confidence and inspired me to always hold a global perspective on things. Even more than that, bonding so quickly with new people gave me hope for the future. If a group of young people from across the country can have fun, talk about serious issues, and collaborate on life-changing ideas for initiatives, then cross-cultural exchanges can continue universally. Our world will be better for it.
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