Jessica Neri, 17 | 2018-2019 Alumni Ambassador | Greenwich High School, CT | Constanza, Dominican Republic
Before Global Glimpse I had only dreamed of seeing the world and immersing myself in a different culture. I had never been outside the United States and was excited for my trip to Constanza, Dominican Republic. Well, that was until I stepped out of the airport and took a quick glance around the foreign scenery. A wave of panic came over me the farther and farther we went up the mountain to Constanza where we were met by a friendly woman by the name of Dilenia. I was overwhelmed by the language barrier and the feeling of isolation that my middle school Spanish classes had not prepared me for. I remember stepping out of the van that I sat in for the past two hours contemplating and thinking “what had I gotten myself into?”.
I had been preparing for this moment over the past few months and now that I was finally in country, away from what I had known, I was more nervous than excited. These feelings faded quickly at dinner time when the entire delegation and Global Glimpse staff had come together to share our first meal together. By the time we were sitting around the commons area in our pajamas that night, we had all gotten to know each other pretty well and my nerves were long gone.
The rest of the trip I grew closer and closer to my fellow ‘glimpsers’, the people that filled each room with friendship, knowledge, and laughter. I found myself stepping out of my comfort zone and trying new foods, dance, language, and experiences. The people that had been strangers to me just a few days before were now my Constanza family. They all have impacted my life in some way, whether it was helping me improve my Spanish, being my dancing partner, singing our hearts out on the bus, having heartfelt talks, stuffing our faces with Dilenia’s delicious food, or ending a day of hard work with a nightly meeting and big love, we did it all as a team.
Along with the many treats and bracelets I brought back home, I had also returned with the experiences and lessons I had learned. The other glimpsers, the GGLs, the community members, the locals, and anyone I had met on the trip had all contributed to my growth as a leader. One of the many experiences you participate in is being el leader del día. This is the day when you are given full authority to guide a group of twenty-something teenagers for an entire 24 hours. I was lucky to be paired with two other glimpsers with very different personalities than my own. The three of us worked well together and learned to balance our strengths on “living like a local” day, where the biggest challenge was trying to get the group to ‘hype up’ for a day of no electricity, bucket showers, and chores with the locals. Yes, we faced many challenges and it took some trial and error, but we worked together and balanced our leadership roles. This challenge was difficult and there was a lot of pressure to make the day run smoothly and successfully. I was pushed to step away from being my introverted self and be a louder, more authoritative leader I needed to be. Throughout this, I was being supported not only by my two co-leaders, but by the rest of the delegation. I received many compliments, suggestions, advice, and feedback throughout the day that made the experience that more enlightening. This was the day I had learned something very important: everyone is a leader. A leader isn’t only the person giving directions, but the people carrying out those directions and devoting to a common goal. I will continue to strengthen and challenge the strong foundation this trip has set for me to become a stronger leader.