Elise Gout CC’19 spent Summer 2016 studying on the SEE-U Jordan program as a 2016 Presidential Global Fellow. The Presidential Global Fellowship program, funded with a seed grant from Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger and established in 2014, covers the program fee associated with a Columbia global program, as well as a stipend to cover round-trip airfare and living expenses, for students to study in a location at or near one of the Columbia Global Centers. Here, Elise reflects on her experience.
Leaving anywhere after four weeks of settling in is a difficult thing. But saying goodbye to this trip, in particular, makes me feel preemptively nostalgic. With so much of the world to see – more than I could have first imagined – I know I won’t likely be in Jordan again. Not for quite some time, at least. And it isn’t just the sweeping desert landscapes and piles of warm pita that I’ll be leaving behind, it’s seeing those sweeping desert landscapes and eating those piles of warm pita with the people that I have met on this program. People I have come to consider dear friends of mine.
Over these past few days, I have mourned all of the small things that one does when things end. Those irrelevant inside jokes that probably aren’t going to be funny anymore. Every time we ordered ice cream for a second dessert. The way the call to prayer would echo through the city streets…
More than anything, though, I’m going to miss being so consistently challenged in my understanding. Every day here, I learned something that forced me to reevaluate – my opinions, my actions, my intentions. The potential for personal growth is far greater, it would seem to me, the less comfortable you are. And while I have recently returned home to San Diego, my ultimate safe space, I don’t want to become complacent. Maintaining that curiosity, that hunger for adventure, has become a huge priority of mine moving forward – and what better place to start than New York City?
Elise Gout CC’19
2016 Presidential Global Fellow
Learn more about the Presidential Global Fellowships