GYV Staff/ Participant during: 2007-2009
Education: Scarborough High School Graduate & rising freshman at Stanford University
Occupation: None yet!
Most Interesting Country Visited: Peru
Favorite GYV Memory: More than anything I remember the personal relationships that GYV created- the whispered conversations about life at home way past lights out in the cabins, swapped language lessons over a picnic table, teaching new friends to swim, talking about a dialogue session long after it was over, and most of all the certainty that you’ve made a bunch friends for life that you can count on for anything within a couple of weeks. Pickup games and dialogue sessions were highlights of my day. Being able to see everyone’s culture and talents shine through at sharing night was always fun, and the food and conversations at the dining tables was incredible- I even smile when I remember walking up “The Hill” to get there! And despite how sad it was, the last night spent trading hugs after the moving candle ceremony always had a huge impact on me when I realized how close we had all become.
Volunteer/Civic Engagement Activities since Global Youth Village: Throughout high school I volunteered with a law office that helped low-income refugees and immigrants. So the lawyers would have a basic outline of the cases, I interviewed people who needed help with issues like deportation, applying for a green card, bringing family to the US from war zones or refugee camps, and discrimination. My training at GYV absolutely helped me communicate with all of the people from different cultures, especially when I had to get detailed accounts of sensitive problems and histories. After I graduated, my friend and I took a year off before college to volunteer around the world. In Costa Rica, we taught at an elementary school for three months. In Peru, we participated in hands-on conservation and research in the jungle.
Biography: I have lived all 19 years of my life at the same house in costal Maine. I work in the summers at a tiny market that sells everything you would expect if you’d heard any stereotypes about Maine, including lobsters, clams, blueberries, and whoopie pies. Growing up in Maine was great, but in high school I realized that I wanted to learn more about the world and the people in it- something particularly difficult to do in what is in many ways the least diverse state in the nation. I found GYV and attended the regular program and I loved it so much that the same year, a week after the program ended, I flew back for the first Iraqi-American exchange program. I became very involved in learning about the Middle East and studied Arabic and attended the Iraqi program for three years, making incredible friends and learning new things every single time. During high school I was very involved in refugee advocacy and environmental volunteering, and I spent a lot of time writing. After I graduated, I took a gap year that included three months living with a family and volunteering in Costa Rica; one month in Peru with a conservation program; and a month in Ireland working on an organic farm. From language blunders to sneaking into ancient ruins and learning traditional Irish songs by heart, some of the most incredible I’ve experiences I’ve had have been on my gap year (and I encourage all high school students to consider taking one!) However, nothing will ever compare to the memories and friends I made during my summers at GYV. I’ll be at home until September, when I leave for Stanford University where I hope to study international relations, environmental sciences, and writing.