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Photo by Elke Schmidt, Senegal Bridge Year Program.

Introduction Letter – Felipe Mendoza

Hello, my name is Felipe Mendoza and I am from Bogota, Colombia. I have been thinking about Bridge Year since last year a Princeton representative went to my school to talk to us about Princeton. I was not sure where to apply, but as soon as I found out about this program, I knew I wanted it. I am aware of something that happens to me with which maybe others can relate. Sometimes I take everything for granted around me just because I become used to routines in my life. Most of the times I feel like this limits the person I can be, and in my personal experience the cure for this is service. Therefore, I am incredibly excited about the experience that is about to start. Nine months seems daunting and it is a lot of time without people who have lived with us for our whole lives, but I am sure that the reward in this experience will be totally worth it.

More about myself now. I am a active person, I love playing sports and I will never say no to an impromptu plan that involves doing something fun. During my high school years, I played basketball but since my country is really passionate about soccer, I also have a passion for this sport even though I am not that good at it. I really enjoy backpacking and camping; instead of going to a typical destination for a senior trip with my friends I decided to go to Yellowstone to camp for a week with one of my best friends. I do not regret it one bit (I have decided to attach a picture of this trip that I find pretty funny as a sort of ice breaker, hope it works). Another thing I really like are movies that leave you thinking. By this I mean the kind of movies that change your perspective or plant an idea that challenges you. I have a gigantic list of these movies that keeps growing every day. I have always lived in Bogota which is a pretty big crowded city with about eight million citizens. It is very noisy and chaotic but growing here comes along with a set of skills that I have acquired with time that I would not trade for anything else. When reading about Senegal, I noticed how many participants of previous programs were amazed by how many people fit in a bus. This is something I can relate to because the public transportation system here in Bogota is similar and of the hundreds of times I have rode in a bus, the times I have found a place to sit in are less than ten.

I have been trying to draw connections between my life here and how it will be in Senegal. The only conclusion I have arrived to is that everything in Senegal is going to be so new that there is no point in comparing it to what my life is here. And this is a good thing. New things mean change, and change is good. I can’t wait to meet the other amazing people in this team and I am glad that I have this opportunity. See you all soon!