More from Princeton Bridge Year

It's time for another update from our group of seven Princeton Bridge Year students who happen to be having the Cross-Cultural Solutions gap year adventure of a lifetime in Salvador, Brazil. Check out this excerpt from Caitlin's blog and learn about one of her favorite moments so far.

gap year volunteering

There is a little boy at my placement with special needs with whom I have been trying to build a relationship for the past six weeks. This little guy, whom I shall call Daniel, is non-verbal and doesn't seem to have a lot of interaction with the other students. Sometimes I sit next to him at lunch and talk to him a little. He gives me high fives, which is nice. Other than that, though, we haven't yet become buddies like I would like to.

But today, a breakthrough! Daniel doesn't nap for lunch like the other students; today, one of the teachers took him downstairs to the play area, which is where I was waiting for the CCS van to pick me up. This teacher is probably the most kid-friendly adult I have ever met, and seeing her play with Daniel is one of the coolest, purest things I have seen here. I joined in and the three of us laughed and chased each other around for a little while. When Daniel sat down to catch his breath, I gave him a kiss on the forehead. And then, he gave me a big kiss on the cheek! I almost cried. It was one of my very favorite moments I have experienced so far here in Brazil.

It's one of those small things that just means a lot, you know? It's a little symbol of something I've been working toward for weeks, and in a way, it symbolizes something on a bigger scale, too. More than just about anything else here in Salvador, I'm trying to build personal relationships with people -- the kind of relationships that allow everyone involved to learn about each other's cultures and benefit from each other's skills and experiences. This sweet gesture from a precious child seemed to me like a sign of validation that these relationships are developing.

Find out more about Caitlin's gap year adventure in Brazil by following her blog!

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