Kaileigh Crofutt, 17
Pittsburg High School, Pittsburg, CA
Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic (JA1B)
I’m Kaileigh Crofutt, a courageous, committed, compassionate individual who is dedicated to making an impact in every space that I occupy, whether that be giving a smile, providing support to the members of my community, inspiring others to pursue courageous paths, or building a community center in Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic. But I wasn’t always this person, so bold and determined in making a mark in order to inspire global change. Actually, I was severely anxious, devoting all my time to ensuring that no one even noticed me, that I never said anything too memorable out of the fear that I may say the wrong thing (I still have anxiety but have made extreme progress in coping since my Global Glimpse journey). Of course, I’ve always been driven to inspire change–I’m going to college to be an English teacher, not only to educate, but to be able to provide students with a home in education, a place they go to learn, to grow, to dream, to live, to build a community, to build themselves, to feel and give love– but never before have I pursued this passion for change so fervently, until I decided to begin being accountable for my life and taking risks that seemed too far out of reach in my mind, one of those being Global Glimpse.
I waited for the day I would have to show up to the airport to introduce myself to 20 strangers with the most uncomfortable tangled knot in my stomach, often questioning if I really had the strength to show up for myself, let alone 20 other people at an airport whom I’d never met or a country full of people who I knew were relying on me to show up. I’d never given myself the opportunity to bask in discomfort, to feel change physically and emotionally happen. I was a hypocrite; I was so dedicated to inspiring change, yet I had never given myself any chances to change. This evolved rapidly as one moment I was saying hello to strangers who I didn’t realize would become my family in an SFO terminal, and in a blink, I was saying goodbye to people who were officially my family–my delegation who spent 16 days in the Dominican Republic–as I stood for the last time in the SFO terminal.
Some people return from their Global Glimpse journey more grateful, more knowledgeable, more social, or more honest. I returned with fresh skin–shedding the exterior being of myself that I once believed defined me. I was happier, healthier (mentally and physically), and above all, more passionate about life than I’d ever been. In the DR I saw a mentality that was contagious amongst the community–that of hospitality, peace, genuine happiness, altruism, hard work, sacrifice, and gratitude–I saw a world I wanted to use as an example to lead my own life. I saw the 14-year old, Edison, who had been working on a coffee plantation since he was physically able to in order to feed his family. I saw the children and teens more enthusiastic and appreciative to attend summer classes to learn English than I’ve ever seen any American about anything. I saw a little girl more content with a latex glove filled with water and decorated with a Sharpie-d cat than I’d ever seen any child who was spoiled with all the toys they could dream of. I saw a community reunited by the ability to build a community center (they had all the want in the world to be able to work to build, but just couldn’t afford the materials). I saw a delegation of people equally driven in social and economic justice, equally driven in dedicating themselves to becoming the raw, honest, hopeful, emotional, passionate, determined, inquisitive, selfless, reflective, motivated people whom they were never allowed to become in a society so focused on the next best thing–money, materialism, clout. I saw a world that, despite their social and economic turmoil, felt more like home, felt more familial, felt more wealthy than any place I’d previously been. I saw the person I wanted to become in the people who were around me. And through Global Glimpse, I had the opportunity to become that person, an open-minded, open-hearted, honest, raw, and determined person unafraid of making a change.
Courage, commitment, and compassion: the 3 C’s in our Global Glimpse promise. When I boarded a flight at SFO with a group of 20 strangers, I couldn’t have fathomed the courage it would require to relinquish my anxiety for a community I would grow to love. I couldn’t have configured expectations for the journey I would experience in the Dominican Republic for 16 days as a commitment to global service. I couldn’t have calculated the amount of compassion I would witness myself dedicate to the vibrant people of Jarabacoa, those I would give my life to in order see fewer children working to feed their family or to see the community receive an education beyond the 5 classes I taught.