Reflections and Connections

  • Date: May 11, 2021

    In 2020, the Novogratz Bridge Year Program launched Voices, a monthly series of virtual events designed to highlight the work and lives of community members in the locations where Bridge Year operates. While Bridge Year program operations for the 2020-21 academic year were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Voices series aimed to foster engaging virtual learning experiences and keep Bridge Year past participants – as well as the wider Princeton community – connected with our community partners in Bolivia, China, India, Indonesia and Senegal.

  • Date: May 6, 2021

    In our final installment of the series, Anna Hiltner ’23, Cody Mui ’23, Aneekah Uddin '24, John Bullock ’23, and Leopoldo Solis '21 discuss their main takeaways from the Novogratz Bridge Year Program and provide their best advice for prospective students. Don't forget, the deadline…

  • Date: April 30, 2021

    This week, Anna Hiltner ’23, Cody Mui ’23, John Bullock ’23, and Leopoldo Solis '21 reflect on the ways that Bridge Year prepared them for the Princeton academic experience.

  • Date: April 26, 2021

    This week, Anna Hiltner ’23, Svetlana Johnson ’24, Cody Mui ’23, Leopoldo Solis ’21, and Nicole E. Williams ’23 discuss navigating personal challenges on Bridge Year and provide tips for future Bridge Year students as they prepare for the program.

  • Date: April 16, 2021

    This week, Aneekah Uddin ’24, John Bullock ’23, and Kate Gross Whitaker ’23 reflect on the challenges, mishaps, and advantages of learning a new language and culture.

  • Date: April 8, 2021

    This week, Kate Gross Whitaker ’23 and Svetlana Johnson ’24 reflect on the theme of community engagement and service learning.

  • Date: July 28, 2020
    Country: China

    When I biked home from work in China, I anticipated not my homestay family’s apartment building, a nondescript, five story complex on top of convenience stores and massage parlors, but the building across from it. At twenty stories high, it towered over mine, and two looming characters perched on either corner blazed in red: 天 and 地, or heaven and earth. My Christian roots compelled me to recall those first verses. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep…”. Until I was eleven and had repudiated my faith in a fit of teenage angst, I dutifully attended church every Sunday and Jesus camp every June. China had the tendency to reveal my bare bones, and as I returned after a long day of stumbling…

  • Date: April 3, 2020

    On March 13, the Novogratz Bridge Year Program made the difficult decision to suspend operations in all five of our program sites for the remainder of the year, due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. We want to thank all of the communities across the globe that make this program possible, our program partner Where There Be Dragons, and the Bridge Year students for remaining engaged and committed to learning about the world around them even as they transition back to their home locations. Enjoy some farewell reflections from each of the Bridge Year cohorts. 

  • Date: March 10, 2020
    Country: Senegal

    I am creating meaningful relationships with those around me. As Bridge Year shortens to a few months, I am cherishing the time left with the Mbayen family. Although, I know that just as those who have come before me, I will always be a part of the family

  • Date: February 26, 2020
    Country: Senegal

    Our lives have come to be defined by rhythm. In our second Update from the Field, we invite you to get a glimpse of how we became woven into the fabric of Dakar’s rhythm.

  • Date: February 6, 2020
    Country: Indonesia

    Whether during travel periods or our daily routines in Yogyakarta, our Bridge Year lives seem to be constantly in transit. We decided to recollect our time in Indonesia by reflecting on our lives in transit, focusing both on the myriad forms of transportation we rely on, and on the other less tangible ways we mark our transitions here. Each group member chose a form of transportation, including everything from the public bus to the way daily shifts in time impact us. We have found that it’s in these moments of transit, these seemingly mundane shifts in place or time, are catalysts for reflection on our experience here. 

  • Date: December 12, 2019
    Country: Senegal

    I’m working on living a more intentional life here in Senegal, and I’ve made some good first steps. Right now I am working on finding balance. Finding balance with what I eat, how I spend my time, and what my priorities are. I’m only at the beginning of this journey, and perhaps starting a little late, but starting, nonetheless. I’m living a more intentional life, one small step at a time.

  • Date: December 6, 2019
    Country: India

    Food provides insight into the climate, preferences, and organization of a society. It is also a prevalent connector, linking the farmer to the buyer, the buyer to the cook, and the cook to the consumer. Food impacts our daily lives in a myriad of ways which we are unable to capture in a mere 6,741 words. But perhaps this update can serve as a fragmented window into our shifting understanding and as an inspiration to further investigate food within a variety of contexts, from our high school lives, to Bridge Year, to our lives at Princeton.

  • Date: December 4, 2019
    Country: India

    Happy Thanksgiving (a few days late) from the Novogratz Bridge Year Program! Tejas Gupta and Sydney Eck from Bridge Year India reflect on food, family, gratitude, and celebrating an American holiday abroad in a special Update from the Field.

  • Date: November 15, 2019
    Country: China

    In our Update From the Field, our cohort details the caring and memorable people we have been fortunate enough to know— whether it be for a brief bus ride or for two weeks— and the lessons they have taught us.  Reading in chronological order, our Update meanders from Shibaoshan to Shaxi, Liming, Bangdong, and lastly, our home for this year, Kunming. We hope to illuminate why we believe the most indelible marks left by experience are crafted by the people you meet.

  • Date: October 22, 2019
    Country: Senegal

    When our instructors told us that Senegalese greetings may span several minutes, we looked at them incredulously. Yet, we quickly learned that this is true through our encounters with local vendors, guest speakers, and pedestrians. Reflecting on our experiences with the greetings, we each chose to examine an aspect of typical dialogue between strangers and family members alike. In the spirit of hospitality, we hope you will laugh, struggle, and grow with us as we share glimpses of our introduction to Senegal this past month.

  • Date: August 26, 2019

    Bridge Year students, I want to invite you to live a “bridge life”—to unwind yourself in building bridges that deny the apartness we have been told is our fate. I invite you to tear down walls when you can and build bridges around them when you can’t. I invite you to re-enchant the world—to see into the radiant complexities of a humble grape. To walk with a reverent air, with an eye to make things whole. Pay attention.

  • Date: April 25, 2019
    Country: India

    Bridge Year involves travel unlike any we have experienced before. This makes the connection we have with India something very unique. 

  • Date: April 1, 2019
    Country: Bolivia

    In Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet, he writes, "What is this thing then, that measures us without measure and kills us even though it does not itself exist?" The answer to the riddle is time. Time is the most abstract yet ubiquitous part of our lives, and as we consider histories as complex and weighted as colonization to random memories from a year ago or even yesterday, we bring time into ourselves.

  • Date: February 18, 2019
    Country: China

    “Person, place, or thing?” This question was the focus of many mirth-filled hours traveling through Yunnan in the month of September. Whether riding a bus into the clouds on a winding mountain road or waiting for what seemed like a small eternity for dinner to arrive after a long day of travel to a new destination, we could always rely on a round of twenty questions to pass the time.