My time at Stanford University is quickly coming to an end and a new beginning is awaiting for me in Florianopolis, Brazil. I’ve listened to countless wonderful speakers who talked about what to expect in my gap year and how to navigate an unfamiliar culture respectfully. As I stressfully repacked today for my eight months in Brazil I couldn’t help but smile as I noticed some of the items nestled comfortably in my suitcase: sweet rice crackers, Japanese themed erasers, and a Daruma doll. Each one reminding me that no matter how deeply immersed I find myself in my host family’s culture, it will always be impossible for me not to excitedly share a small snippet of my own culture to them.

 I have decided to gift the snacks and erasers to my host family as a ways to start conversation about where I come from and to show some gratitude. As for the Daruma doll, I decided to pack that for myself. This Daruma doll is a small red traditional wishing doll that was gifted to me as a graduation gift by my Japanese teacher and life time mentor, Mami Fujisaki. She told me to make my wish not too complicated nor too simple. Something that could possibly come true within the next year or two. You fill in one eye of the doll while making this wish and once it is fulfilled you can color in the other eye. Admittedly I don’t really know if I’m suppose to share the wish I made, but I’m going to anyway. If my wish doesn’t come true because of this that’s… well unfortunate but I feel it’s worth sharing in my first blog. As I filled in one eye, I wished to make two meaningful life long friendships: one with a Global Citizen Year fellow and one with a  Florianopolis local that I meet during my time in Brazil. I think a reason I feel ok sharing this wish is because I truly do believe it will not be fulfilled only with the good luck and fortune that comes from the doll but through the actions I decide to take within my community this year. By bringing the doll with me and seeing it incomplete, I kind of made a subtle self promise to keep going and pushing until I see this goal fulfilled. So until I feel confident enough to color in the second eye, I’m making a promise to myself to reach out to those in my host family, in my community, in my apprenticeship and in my supportive GCY cohort.