Hello! My name is Ben Guo and I am a 2021-2022 Gilman Alumni Ambassador from NYC. I graduated from Fordham University, Lincoln Center in 2021 with a degree in Global Business. As a Gilman Scholar, I studied abroad in London in Spring 2019 on a semester exchange at Fordham London Centre.
One of the first markers of growth for anyone is making a connection with some else. We all remember our first childhood best friends, when we first got invited to a sleepover, or even just to a birthday event. As a freshman in college, making new friends was the number one priority. Finding people with similar interests or simply sharing the same goals in life drew us together. Through the uncertainties that life has thrown at us, most recently COVID-19, many relationships have been tested for good and bad. Making a decision to study abroad is like that uncertainty. You are going abroad, in a new environment, in a new space where you can ultimately decide on how you want to live. But, the beauty in talking a step into the unknown can provide the best decisions in the end.
As a Gilman scholar, I was surrounded by individuals who shared similar goals of international diplomacy. Networking with Gilman scholars within the UK, provided a support system abroad. One experience during my Gilman program that I want to highlight changed not only my academic trajectory, but my career trajectory as well. I was invited to participate in a Department of State sponsored Regional Career Summit, in Lisbon Portugal. While there, I explored careers within the public sector, connecting with Foreign Service officers at the U.S. Embassy. Through the conversations, what resonated the most was a duty to support what it means to be an American to me. The American identity represents a beacon of hope for equality, equity, and an understanding of diversity through its people.
As a participant, through the networking with the students at the summit showed a true glimpse of diversity. We all stemmed from different parts of America, with different academic focuses all coming together to support what diplomacy means to us. After coming back to America, we made it a mission to have a reunion every year, which till this day still exists. Taking a leap of faith and believing in your decision, provides a limitless world of possibilities.