Curious what our first class of 1+4 fellows are doing here on campus? Check out the latest video from our fabulous alum filmmaker Madeline to catch up with some of our alumni as they complete their first year at Tufts!
Hello world it’s me, writing a personal blog for the first time in a long time. What am I up to? Currently I’m laying on the president’s lawn at Tufts enjoying the 80 degree weather (so long as I pretend our planet isn’t dying) with a new friend I made this semester. First semester here I saw a lot of people around campus that I wanted to be friends with but never reached out to so my social goal this semester was to approach everyone I had a “friend crush” on and try to befriend them. So far it’s worked out swimmingly. I used to approach situations from the standpoint of “Oh no… they’re too cool for me…” but I realized that’s ridiculous and if someone thought they were “too cool” for new friends then I probably wouldn’t want to be friends with them anyway. I’ve worked to surround myself with people I enjoy being around- people I want to make happy and people who want to make me happy, largely my 1+4 friends, because being emotionally content is just as important as doing well academically and I think I solidified that life outlook last year.
This year has been trying but I think about where I would be had I not taken a year between high school and college through 1+4 and I think I would have dropped out of Tufts. I always receive shocked and disturbed looks when I say that but what is really so surprising about that? Many students pass through college not having any direction or passions they’ve realized yet but they’re there to get a “good” job in the future. Isn’t that a bit more scary than dropping out to pursue some other sense of fulfillment and meaning? I don’t think a goal such as a good job could have sustained me for very long and I would have decided to pursue something else to find out how I could contribute to something bigger than me and find it meaningful. I needed time before college to ask myself what mattered to me and I was privileged enough to have that opportunity so I’m still thankful for everyone who helped me do that and everyone in the 1+4 family.
Generic updates anyone? I have them!! I intend on declaring a double major in Environmental Studies and English, with a minor in Portuguese. I have become co-director of a club on campus called Students for Environmental Awareness and this has taken up a fairly large portion of my time but it’s very fulfilling and makes me happy. I run this club with my roommate, who is also my best friend here at Tufts, and we have lots of fun and it’s something that really matters to me. We do volunteer work in the community, advocate for current environmental issues, attempt to spread awareness on campus, and run events on campus to involve Tufts students in the environmental movement. I am also in a cooking club which is a ton of fun. I will be interning at an environmental justice organization this summer called Groundwork Somerville working with ‘at risk’ (I use quotes because I have some qualms about this wording) high schoolers from Somerville in Groundwork’s urban garden where the students will be running the farmer’s market as well as their summer job. This project is working with problems of environmental racism, social injustices, healthy food access, and marginalized populations’ representation in the environmental movement. These are all things I’m really passionate about and know that 1+4 was a really important part of preparing me to be qualified for this internship. On the other end of things, I’ve been reading and writing more poetry this year which has been a source of great joy for me. I finally decided that I would like to pursue an English major because it’s something I simply enjoy doing and I think that is really important.
And there you have it folks, 1+4 shows up in my life still in subtle and obvious ways that all impacts me positively and I don’t expect that to go away anytime soon. When school becomes too much I know I have my 1+4 family to lean back on for support and that’s a really wonderful feeling.
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
Being back on the Tufts campus now, I can know that taking a bridge year through Tufts 1+4 was one of the best decisions I’ve made so far! I am certainly doing a better job at being authentically “me,” I’ve gained a better understanding of who I am, what this world is, and how I want to impact it! I feel more comfortable in knowing where some of my passions lie and how I can use them to fuel the rest of my life. I know that I want to let my curiosity take me around the world, letting my newfound experiences guide me! Besides that, my bridge year has given me the chance too to share my amazing stories with friends, gain a new fluency in Portuguese (one that I am furthering here at Tufts!), and take advantage of all the resources Tufts has to offer!
Steven is now a first-year student at Tufts, where he plans on studying biochemistry and community health.
“I could not be happier that I took a year for myself between high school and college. It’s not that I didn’t feel ready for college, but that now, I really know how to engage and appreciate my experience here. My bridge year taught me about my passions and gave me time to explore the way the world works before I had to apply those things to my life here on campus. Plus, now I can connect with my all of my Tufts peers in a totally new and exciting way because of my bridge year experience.”-Madeline Weir
Madeline is now a first-year student at Tufts, where she is studying International Relations.
This is 1+4 alumnus Justin Mejia:
Justin was a Spain fellow in 2015-2016, and wrote this at the conclusion of his bridge-year:
“This Bridge year was the best thing that could have happened after graduating high school. Being able to explore new and amazing places while making a difference was truly incredible. I learned so much about the world and about myself which makes me feel ready and excited for college. ”
Justin has brought his 1+4 experiences with him and has done some incredible things on the Tufts campus already!