Cultivating Connections and Creating Opportunities

After eight or nine months of a year that are spent doing social impact work, Tufts 1+4 fellows hope to be able to continue similar work throughout their college careers. The motivated and inspiring collection of students that are now or soon to be 1+4 alumni are doing just that. This bridge year experience allows students to make life-long connections to their host communities and the many people who work to make an experience like 1+4 possible. This summer many of our Tufts 1+4 alumni have exciting internships and jobs that have resulted from connections they have made through 1+4. From internships in New York City to a fellowship in Rwanda to research in Japan, the 1+4 alumni are embracing their ability to make a difference both domestically and around the world.

Two Nicaragua fellows, Abigail ’15-’16 and Mateo ’16-’17, have decided to work for their host organization AMIGOS this summer. Abigail, who is finishing up her first year at Tufts, worked in León last year at Las Tías a before and after school center for children who need extra support in getting proper nourishment and support. Abigail worked to help reorganize Las Tías, paint a beautiful mural to re-energize the space, and taught classes for the children. This summer she will be working as a project supervisor and will coordinate with partnering agencies to prepare host communities for summer volunteers in Azuero, Panama. She will plan the structure for implementing community service activities and assist in problem solving throughout the summer. After a year on campus and her year working in Nicaragua, Abigail feels very excited and prepared to continue work in the social impact field throughout the summer.

Mateo, who is still living and working in León, Nicaragua is also working for AMIGOS now and this summer. As a 1+4 fellow right now, he is working at Las Tías and is teaching English and music lessons to children of all ages. This summer he will be heading over to the Chimborazo region of Ecuador where he will be working as a project supervisor. This is AMIGOS’ entry level position. He will be responsible for making sure that his group of 8-12 kids is safe and to respond to any needs they might have. Another important part of the job is all the work that goes into it both before and after that students actually arrive. The project supervisors are responsible for vetting the host families and making sure that they’ll be a good fit, as well as confirming where our participants will be working at. Mateo explains, “Participating in Tufts 1+4 helped me to prepare for this job because it taught me early on how to be more confident and to be extremely aware of whether or not what I’m doing is efficient. Furthermore, I learned how to have lots of really difficult conversations, whether they be in the workplace or personal, and how to an advocate for myself.” This summer job with AMIGOS will allow Mateo to begin his first year at Tufts with an immense amount of international work experience and with a strong sense of self.

Whether it is working directly through your previous host organization or finding other connections through the people you have met through 1+4, the bridge year has truly given its fellows a head start in securing meaningful and exciting summer opportunities.

– Madeline, Tufts 1+4 Spain Alumna

My Walk Home

by Rebeca, Tufts 1+4 Participant

Every week night I take a ten-minute walk from the Paco de Lucia metro station to my home after work. The air is crisp and cold; it is late at night so there are only a few people coming out of the metro. My walk begins with a stretch of uphill; to my left is a cement wall which ends where an incline with bushes and vines begins. To the right is a road where the occasional car or bus heading to plaza de Castilla passes by. Also to the right, once I am higher up on the incline, I can see the dimly lit apartments against the dark blue sky. Beyond these I can see the lights of the buildings in the distance, and above the metro exit the occasional train passes by with a loud blow of its whistle. After the incline, I continue walking on a straight road past the Mercadona, a large supermarket, followed by a vibrant street with restaurants on one side and apartments on the other. Even though my walk home is usually between 10 and 11 pm, there are always people sitting outside eating and talking. I pass by waiters and people walking their dogs (there are so many dogs where I live). I hear the chatter coming from the people eating and cars passing by; on occasion one of the workers and I exchange a good night. This peaceful residential area I call home is a welcomed respite from the stress and hustle of the day. Once I arrive to the gate to enter my apartment complex, I wave to the doorman who always lets me in.

Continue reading “My Walk Home”

My 1+4 Story: Erica

I’m one of the most indecisive people I know, so my recent spontaneity is slightly surprising if viewed objectively. However, my indecision seems to have taken the back burner ever since I decided to do 1+4. It only resurfaces every once in a while when I’m editing a picture or deciding whether or not I should buy a pincho de tortilla every time I go out. Big decisions can be scary and multifaceted, so I’ve begun to avoid the anxiety-inducing weighing of pros and cons by simply skipping the overthinking (or thinking at all?). A few weeks ago, some of my fellow fellows and I decided to endure a night-bus and visit Barcelona for the weekend (because why not). One Sunday I was exploring El Rastro and was about to buy a scarf for five euros when I decided that I should get two instead. They were cheap, and I’d only bought like 11 so far this year, so obviously it was completely justifiable. Last weekend I chopped my hair when I didn’t really have any intention of doing so the night before or even the morning of. Who knew I could be so impulsive! Who knew I’d cut my hair shorter than my traumatizing seventh grade bob! Who knew I’d eat fish every day after actively hating it my entire life! Who knew I’d be capable of travel planning (and executing)! Who knew that I would go to Madrid for nine months after high school and change in some slightly ridiculous, but other quite profound ways? In high school, I had absolutely no intention of taking a year before university. I didn’t even consider it as an option when applying to college. But when I applied, was accepted to, and saw my financial aid package for the 1+4 program, there was no speculation. There was no weighing of advantages and disadvantages. I was going to Madrid in the fall! I was blinded by the sheer amazingness that is this opportunity. And of course there were advantages and disadvantages—there still are. But I knew there was no way this could have been the “wrong” decision.

Before you know it, you won’t recognize yourself. Maybe you’ll discover that you secretly want short hair and like fish. Everyone you’ll interact with every day is now a stranger, but they’ll become your new home, family, and community. You’ll look around at the people you talk to and care about and realize that you didn’t know any of them a year ago and never would have met them if you didn’t do this program. How cool is that? You’ll be a member of a new community, and might have to conduct your work in a foreign language. You’ll have a chance to learn outside of the normal education system. You’ll finally have the time to live. Without a ridiculously packed schedule where there isn’t enough time in the day to complete everything thoroughly and live a truly balanced life. You might discover an interest you never knew you had or start a new hobby. It just might be the best year of your life so far—it’s been mine. It seems like the only thing that scares me now is thinking about what my life would be like if I never did 1+4.