Global Glimpse

By Marina Halbert

“We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed.” In this quote, Pico Lyer truly summarizes my experience this summer as I traveled to Jarabacoa in the Dominican Republic with Global Glimpse. An international travel program, Global Glimpse encourages rising seniors to gain personal agency and a global perspective by going on a trip to a foreign country with unknown peers for two weeks the summer before their senior year. Although I originally applied to Global Glimpse because it seemed like a fun and novel experience for the summer, I actually ended up having the time of my life making new friends and learning about different cultures.

Like I said, I first elected to go to the Dominican Republic simply to get away, to meet new people, and, as the quote says, “lose myself,” if just for a little bit, in travel. However, by the end of my trip, I realized I had just begun to find myself – I was closer to the person I have always wanted to be because I was given the opportunity to laugh a little more freely, make connections a little less awkwardly, and cry a little more easily. A huge part of this was the direct result of the amazing people on my trip, whose open hearts and minds enabled all of us to become close friends in just a few days. Every single day, myself and the 20 other students I traveled with woke up with smiling faces despite our itchy mosquito bites, dirty clothing, and lack of sleep, because we knew that no matter what the schedule was, we would have fun spending time together and learning new things. Being so widely and wholeheartedly accepted by a group of strangers is an affirming experience, one that has encouraged my confidence and positivity in beginning new relationships and talking to more people.

Of course, the entire purpose of the Global Glimpse trip was to “open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate,” as Lyer neatly summarizes. And this aspect of the program should not be overlooked: since coming back I have become so much more aware of global events and the place that American industries hold in international esteem. Personally, I have begun to feel a responsibility to be a good global citizen and therefore have been extremely mindful of the single-use plastics I use and begun to eat vegetarian; if you are someone considering taking the trip, consider this my strongest endorsement because, frankly, I love hamburgers. Even more than gaining a global perspective, however, I learned the simple importance of keeping oneself informed: of knowing what is happening in the world, the country, and the community. 

The third part of the quote applies to the “community action project,” or, CAP, and all the community service me and my peers undertook on our trip. Lyer explained “We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed.” While traveling with Global Glimpse, a huge part of their goal is to have “glimpsers” give something back to the places they go; the program pushes students to understand that “giving back” does not always mean supplies or money, it can be a real concrete act like building a bathroom or aqueducts for a community that needs it. It was clear to see the impact building a park, which was my trip’s CAP, would have on the community as we watched children of all ages in Los Hijos, Jarabacoa climb onto their newly built swing set and sit on the freshly constructed benches. Despite our “ignorance” to Dominican culture, we were able to find a project that would “bring what little we can.”

All in all, Pico Lyer’s quote summarizes every aspect of my trip: branching out and meeting new people, gaining a global perspective, and learning how to actually give back to a community in need. Whether traipsing through the jungle in search of a corner store, weeding coffee farms to the crooning of Ed Sheeran, or touring a factory with a silly hair net on, I had the most incredible time in the Dominican Republic and cannot wait to go back.