First Steps and the Before

What can I do to get support? What can I give to get and give back in return? How can I do all this before my departure in August?

These are only a few of the questions I have to seriously ask myself this summer. But before I get ahead of myself, let me explain why I am asking these questions and how I got here.

My name is Guzly Guzman, though most call me Gigi. I am a graduated senior from Laguardia Arts High School in Manhattan, New York. This fall, unlike most of my peers, I will not be going to college. In fact, I won’t even be staying in the country.

I suppose I could begin at the very day I learned about Global Citizen Year.

I was in Ecuador for 10 days to visit family. One of those days I went to Quito to visit my aunt and, luckily, my cousins as well. Growing up I knew my cousin Maria Cristina as an amazing world traveler with the fortune to live comfortably enough that she could travel anywhere. Of course I was only around 7 or so when this assumption was made in my head, and I had in truth no clue how or why she traveled so much. I begged my aunt to tell me, to really tell me what on earth she did as a career. “Oh something Global City…” Off to google we went and found her profile on Global Citizen Year.

I was elated to finally know more about my dear relative, but even more so about coming upon Global Citizen Year in the process. Taking a year off? Going abroad? Making new connections? Pushing myself to find the right path before just jumping into the mess of college?  How could I have not known before?! I was a little behind in the process but I took a chance and applied the very moment I got back to the United States. I am eternally grateful that I did.

I honestly just took a chance. College is frightening and I didn’t feel ready. I didn’t want to enter and jump from major to major wasting time because I was unready. I had no clue what to do with myself, and the regular road taking one step to the next has never felt like it was for me.

I started getting involved with my community through The Community Word Project, which involves students in poetry and arts, first as a student then a mentor and finally an advocate. I was even surprised by them with an Urban Heroes Award. Thanks to them I became a member of Coro’s Mayor’s Youth Leadership Council. As a council member I researched health policies that affected city youth. With my fellow council members we presented  our findings and recommendations for improvement to Mayor Bloomberg and his main advisers. I followed up this work by volunteering for and then working at Health Hospitals Corporation.

All these experiences have helped me develop various skills and talents of a broad spectrum. I have always been a part of something new and different, and Global Citizen Year felt right for me from the very moment I read the words on their About page.

I am proud to say I am a 2014 Fellow! I am glad to say I will be going for what is the basic equivalent to a full academic year to Senegal in West Africa. I will be learning the language and immersing myself in the daily life and the culture.

Before I go, though, I am to fundraise $2,500. This money will go to financial aid for future fellows. This is something I am more than willing to do, because I would certainly not be able to take part in this amazing opportunity without financial aid. It is an opportunity I wish for many future generations to have a fair chance at. This brings me back to my earlier questions. It’s going to be a lot of work. If you’ve gotten this far maybe you could at least take a peek at my Fundly to learn more and possibly donate!

Still, even as I say all this I can’t say I know one hundred percent what to expect. But stay tuned and find out with me! It’s going to be an amazing year!