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Testimonial from

I am a 19-year-old man destined to help the world that I live in. I was raised in a middle class community in New Jersey with two loving parents and two siblings. My childhood and adolescence were filled with life lessons, laughter, and fond memories. I was always taught to be courteous and appreciative for what I have and I was always told that many people in this world do not live the life I do, or anything close to it. For that reason, I was always fascinated with the world and I was curious to learn about different cultures and communities that were unknown to me. I developed a deep appreciation for history and identifying trends through the rise and fall of empires that led us to where we are today. I knew throughout my teenage years that I wanted to find myself a profession that would allow me to travel. I began believing in the philosophy, “The more you see, the more you know”. I was convinced that stepping out of my comfort zone was the only way that I could have the potential for self-improvement. The one thing that I needed was a change. It was not until I was 18 that I experienced drastic change. I decided to embark on a journey out of my comfort zone to attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. This school had a unique Global Conflict Studies degree, which was not offered at any other universities in the US. I left my friends and family and went 1,000 miles south to learn about things that I still love to this day. During my first semester I was researching programs that would send me to different countries to make a difference. I came across GVI and was immediately hooked. I narrowed it down to a few programs and I spoke to my parents and I made to decision to pursue a short-term community development internship in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. That was by far the best decision I have ever made in my life. My 6 weeks in Playa showed me that this world is too big to stay in one place your entire life. I befriended many individuals of all ages that treated me like family. I began to appreciate what I have so much more and how important it was that I did that this early in my life. It opened my eyes to the harsh realities of the world we live it, and also all of the opportunities that we have to help people less fortunate than ourselves. I was not the same person when I returned. I had a deeper appreciation for gratitude and greatly expanded my knowledge of the Spanish language. I will never forget teaching those kids basic English sentences, or performing sensory therapy on a man with cerebral palsy, or watching teenagers playing with my iPhone like it was some alien device. All of those experiences shaped me into a better person. I realized that a bad day for me would be someone else's best day of their lives. As Jon M. Huntsman once said, “No exercise is better for the human heart than reaching down and lifting another up”. These are the words that I live by and I want to encourage others to do the same.