I am very excited to have completed my second year trip, it was one of the most amazing experiences that I have had in my life. During my trip to Guatemala with Global Leadership Adventures this summer I not only learned a great deal about myself but I also thought a lot about my past, my background and where I come from. I am the middle child among 5 children and I live with both my mother and my father. I have lived in Boston for 15 years of my life, my family left our native country of Nigeria in 1997 when I was 2 years old. I’ve grown up as an American, with Nigerian culture poured all over different parts of my life. I believe that my family being immigrants and not understanding too much about the American way of life affected the way I was as a younger child. I was very shy for a large portion of my life, and I regret wasting that portion of my life on being shy. I used to hate conversing with other people and I would usually keep to myself. I would only communicate with the few close friends I had. I had extreme shyness and confidence issues until I began my career at Boston Latin School.
When I came to Boston Latin School, I could tell right away that is was a lot different from many other public schools that I had ever attended and I felt that everyone there was more accepting of different types of people, and people from different cultures. At BLS being different and your own person was the norm. Though I began to embrace who I was more when I entered this new school, I still did not have total confidence in myself and I was still shyer than I wanted to be. My confidence and my ability to get to know people without my shyness getting in the way did get better as I continued at BLS, but I noticed the greatest change when I began Summer Search.
My Outward Bound trip to Minnesota, my GLA journey in Guatemala, and the Summer Search community have helped me to achieve goals that I never knew that I wanted to before I began Summer Search. On my Outward Bound trip I learned to stop putting myself down, and to start believing in myself more in tough situations. I also gained a load of confidence from that trip. We participated in so many activities that I was so scared to get involved in. We did things from rock climbing to throwing ourselves out of our canoes and I am proud to say that I did get involved in all of it. I did not let my fear get in the way of me experiencing amazing challenges. While I was in Guatemala I learned more things about the kind of person that I am while improving more on the positive things I had accomplished in Minnesota last year.
The goals that I brought with me to Guatemala were not drawing back and letting my shyness overcome me, getting to know every new person that I met and letting people know who I really am, practicing my Spanish speaking skills and helping anyone who needed it in the language area, embracing the Guatemalan culture and completely immersing myself in all the activities. I believe that I accomplished all of these goals while in Guatemala and I also figured out more about what I want to do with my life. I’ve always wanted to travel all over the world, but being in Guatemala amongst the people and learning all their history has made me more interested in learning about all the different cultures of the world.
There were times during my trip when we had our story circle and we were having discussions about who we are and where we come from. These discussions brought me to think about my younger years when I was more ashamed of my background and I just realized how long it has really taken for me to realize how terrible of a thing that was. I always fooled myself into believing that I never thought bad thought about being Nigerian, but I did. And these story circles helped me get my feeling about the way I used to feel about being Nigerian out and after I did I felt so much better. I understood that I did not have to let the way I felt before affect the feelings I have now about my culture, which I have learned to love. I was not easy sharing my story about this to my group but I was able to because everyone there respected what everyone else had to say. Everyone in the group was so different, but we still understood each other and I loved my group for that. None of us were sacred to tell each other information about ourselves, and we all let ourselves feel comfortable to do anything around each other.
Other things that I learned about myself in Guatemala is that I can do whatever I set my mind on doing, I’ve finally come to grasp that I am very different from other people. Along with the different person that I am comes a very special, interesting and amazing person. I’ve come to appreciate who I am and where I come from, and I’ve gained so much more confidence. I love this new me and I feel like I am ready to take on anything the world throws at me!
There are so many people who have helped me get to the point of being as confident as I am now and believing in myself as much as I do. I will of course begin with thanking Summer Search and all their wonderful staff. Summer Search is one of the most amazing programs I have ever encountered. What this organization does is amazing, and I am not sure how other Summer Search students have been affected by the program as a whole, but I really do believe that this program has changed my life and I am proud to be part of such an amazing family. I’d like to thank Casey in particular from the Summer Search family, she has been an amazing mentor, who always thinks about me and is providing me with great opportunities. I am very grateful to have her as my mentor because I feel like everything she says to me is really genuine and I believe that I can trust her, and she has played a huge role in helping me cultivate what I have gained from my two Summer trips into a better me. I would like to thank the Guidance department at my school especially Mrs. Clougherty for truly being the best and most supportive staff at BLS, Ms. Sylvester for being my second Guidance Counselor at that school and bringing Summer Search to BLS. Mr. Montague, who is the head guidance counselor at BLS has also helped me with many things. I would also like to thank Ms. Esteve for helping me with summer jobs for both summers I attended trips through Summer Search and for just being an amazing woman. I’d like to appreciate my whole Outward Bound family from last year, and my new GLA family from this year. Everyone on my trip this year was essential to making my experience complete including our expert staff: Ryan, Orlando, Adrianna, and Laura. My family has been a huge part in my success as well, they have been supportive of me going on my trips and being in the Summer Search program the whole way through. I am just extremely grateful for all the opportunities that have been provided for me in my life, and I hope more come my way and I also hope that I will be able to give back for all them in the future.
Fehintola R. Abioye