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.
I think one of the most prominent principles I have learned and am still learning everyday is how to define success. Success can be looked at as a friendship, as it is constantly up for reevaluation. A friend can be someone who you wave to every morning, exchanging a small set of words and going on your way, or it can be someone with whom you share every waking moment of your life with. Like experiences, success can be remembered, but eventually if you greet someone every time you walk in their office you will also make a long lasting impression on them. Thus, what may initially go unnoticed can be one of the most successful things that you accomplish.
“Every morning I wake up and think to myself, wow, I am really doing this. A year ago I never would have thought that I would be in Nicaragua, as a matter of fact I wouldn’t have even be able to tell you exactly where it is on a map. I had a one track mind and that track was college. Attending a preparatory school prior, I surrounded myself with people of the exact same mindset. Taking a gap year was an idea that didn’t exist in my reality, but that all changed upon hearing about the Tufts 1+4 program. Now, after half way through the program, I can say with confidence that taking a gap year was one of the best choices I have ever made in my life. I am learning new things about myself everyday and having experiences with substance. These experiences are making me realize I am living a full life, full of a new language, friends, family, culture, and work that makes me feel like I am making a difference, no matter how big or small.”
Today marks the completion of my first week back at work. It was exciting, exhausting, and all the emotions in between. While it was a bit of an adjustment from relaxing at home all day, I have to admit that it was rewarding to finally be productive again. Having a vacation period gave me just the energy I needed to come back with more determination for the rest of the semester. Something I didn’t realize I missed so very much about where I work, are the daily hugs that the kids give me. I even got hugged by some of our new students, which was especially motivating.
When I think about how this week went by, it hits me that the first month of this year is almost over. Now more than ever, I find myself conscious of just how short my time here in Nicaragua really is. While I’d like to say that my days will always consist of playing with kids and joking around with my host family, I recognize that my time here is coming to a close.