We couldn’t be more proud of 2011 Global Glimpse alumni Canaan Belete and Atsina Allen who spent a bridge year before college in Ecuador with Global Citizen Year!

Motivated by their life-changing experiences with Global Glimpse in Nicaragua during the summer of 2011, Canaan and Atsina applied to spend a year before college living, working, and learning in rural communities in Ecuador. We encourage our alumni to continue to expand their global perspective and step outside their comfort zone; Canaan and Atsina are doing just that and we look forward to following them throughout the year!

What were the most powerful lessons you learned through Global Glimpse?

Atsina: The most powerful lesson I learned through Global Glimpse is that kindness and hard work are universal. I vividly remember on the $1 dollar day we spent an entire afternoon helping a local family clear a field with machetes; even with a language barrier I could see their genuine appreciation for our hard work. Global Glimpse provided me with the opportunity to give, but the Nicaraguan people also gave me so much in return. In Nicaragua for the first time I was truly able to let go of all personal limitations and simply go for it. I felt the power of others that wanted to make a difference as well and I believe there is no stopping the change that is possible with that mindset.

Canaan: I learned the importance of sustainability and especially the need for sustainability in developing countries. I saw people with little money who lived in difficult circumstances, but they still had serenity and happiness in their lives. I found that inspiring and it has motivated me to love the simple things in life. In Nicaragua I discovered many passions including traveling, helping people, studying languages, and learning new cultures!

How did your experience with Global Glimpse impact your decision to apply for Global Citizen Year?

Atsina in Leon, Nicaragua with Global Glimpse in 2011

Atsina: Global Glimpse impacted my decision to apply to Global Citizen Year greatly because by the end of my three week journey in Nicaragua, I felt I had literally only had a “glimpse” into the possibilities of international work. I craved so much more. When Global Glimpse recommended me to Global Citizen Year I knew this program would fulfill that desire as well as give me the opportunity to learn Spanish, immerse in Ecuadorian culture through host families, and most importantly give back to others. Upon learning about my experiences through Global Glimpse and Global Citizen Year many people say, “Wow I wish I could have done something like that. I wish I had known.” Likewise, if I had not been nominated for Global Glimpse back in 2010 I never would have been able to access these opportunities either. Without the Global Glimpse experience under my belt I don’t know if I would have the courage to work outside of my comfort zone and live abroad for an entire year before college.

Canaan: I decided to apply to Global Citizen Year because I wanted to learn Spanish, explore a new culture, further my leadership skills and continue on a path of self-discovery. I would not have applied to Global Citizen Year if it wasn’t for my experience with Global Glimpse. Without Global Glimpse not only would I not have been introduced to the idea of a gap year program, but I also would not have had the opportunity to even discover my passion to learn about the world.

How has your experience with Global Glimpse influenced the way in which you process things in Ecuador?

Atsina: My Global Glimpse experience influences the way I process things in Ecuador now in countless ways. I’m able to handle my immersion into my community without the fear of missing out back home in the same ways I did in Nicaragua. I’m more open minded when it comes to activities both with the group and host families because I see everything as another wonderful opportunity to learn (I actually look forward to the word “vamos!”). Through my experience with Global Glimpse I learned to pose developmental questions and overall to see the world in a different light without worries of culture shock or lack of empathy.

Canaan: With my Global Glimpse experience I feel more prepared traveling to new countries, adjusting to new languages, cultures, foods, people, and weather. I also have the foundation I need, through Global Glimpse, to be culturally aware and have the lenses I need to process the things I see in Ecuador in an effective way. Through Global Glimpse I learned the importance of asking questions, I find my understanding of Spanish, my community and the culture of Ecuador to come to me much smoother than I anticipated.

How has your experience been with Global Citizen Year in Ecuador so far?

Atsina: My experience with Global Citizen Year thus far has been AMAZING. Both of my host families have showered me with so much love and patience and not to mention, heaping amounts of delicious food. Even in the short month I have been here I’ve noticed so much growth in the way I make choices in order to take responsibility for my time here. I can’t wait to look back at my transformation in six months! I definitely see Global Glimpse and Global Citizen Year impacting my life in the future as I move onto higher education, select a career path, or even take in a host student into my own home one day! I use these experiences to my advantage ever single day.

Canaan: My experience with Global Citizen Year so far has been amazing! I have become more comfortable in Spanish, which was such a difficult language for me throughout high school, and I’ve been fully immersed in the Ecuadorian culture from dances, to food, and laughter! I am trying new things constantly and I’m making great, long lasting friends. Global Glimpse definitely ignited many things I am now passionate about, and Global Citizen Year has supported my thirst to further discover these passions. I feel like the impact of these two experiences combined have and will change my lenses on life, my approach to society, cultivate my future profession and create a bond with the world.

Why do you believe this kind of experiential education abroad is important?

Atsina:I believe this kind of education is important for American youth because it is hands on experience. Nowadays, there are many college graduates who can’t find jobs and I believe it’s due to the lack of leadership training and learning outside of the classroom. The younger students are exposed to completely different environments outside of their comfort zone, the more resilient they will become. We need globally aware leaders who have the perspective and the drive to change the world. These programs are an excellent platform for self-discovery and human connection!

Canaan: Many Americans are oblivious to the outside world in terms of cultures, foods, norms, living circumstances, and way of life. I feel like programs such as Global Glimpse and Global Citizen Year could break this unfortunate trend in American youth and instead ignite an intimate connection with countries around the world! Many things are learned through books, but sometimes the best way to learn is through actual immersion and experience. The kind of education that Global Glimpse and Global Citizen Year offer gives American youth the opportunity to discover themselves and find new passions they never knew they had.

Visit Global Citizen Year for more information on a bridge year abroad!