We are very excited to announce a previous TAP Grant recipient, Haby Sondo, as this year’s guest evaluator for the current round of grant applications. Every year, Sean and I invite someone from outside the organization to help us evaluate the finalists of the TAP Grants. Who better than a previous grant recipient?
Meet Haby Sondo!
My name is Haby Sondo and two years ago, I made the wild but necessary decision to embark on a service learning gap semester abroad before I began my Freshman year at Boston University. I was unsure about which country I would end up in, nor how my trip would be funded. By the grace of a thorough internship search and reaching out to my different networks, I found out about the Travel Access Project which awarded $3000 to individuals hoping to embark on unique gap experiences. After writing my application and an interview with Jenn and Sean, I was finally able to fund my service learning trip to the Dominican Republic.
In the Dominican Republic, I lived with a host family, took both Spanish language classes and a teacher training course, and most importantly, volunteered with two very different, life-changing organizations. I served as an English Language teacher to middle school students, as well as worked with children from Haiti and the Dominican Republic searching for work in Dominican Streets. Both the stories and lives I learned encountered within this two organizations are eternally entrenched in my heart and have helped not only with giving me a unique start to college but also with helping me better solidify the effect I hope to have on this world in the future. I learned about the history of La Hispaniola, how Dominicans and Haitians understand their identities, and current social and policial aspects affecting the country today. These experiences would not have been possible without the Travel Access Project.
My work with the Travel Access Project did not stop with the gap semester. I have maintained a friendship with both Jenn and Sean, both people whom my experience would not have been impossible without. I have written articles on my gap semester, as well as attended a conference centered around experiential learning and education to continue this life-long journey that is the gap semester. I work with hopes of returning to the country and giving back to the communities which changed my life. And now, I’m honored to be helping Jenn and Sean look over applications for the next round of gap semester students! This journey you are embarking on is different, challenging, and exciting. It will change you in unimaginable ways, and I wish you the best of luck with the process!