I can’t tell you how much fun it’s been to talk with these young people in the last week! Sean and I have been inspired and encouraged in call after call as they have shared their plans, the passions they have and their hearts for the world and finding their place in it.
It’s a delight to introduce the second half of the finalists for the 2018 Grants for Gap Year Travel.
“A huge reason that I want to take a gap year is because I want to explore what it means to learn outside of the classroom. Not only will being directly in the countries of my studies give me an absolutely immersive experience, but will unearth a multitude of ways to learn about history and society.
For one, a gap year, and my time spent in Mexico, will give me weeks upon weeks to explore the dozens of museums in Mexico City. I can spend hours in the National Anthropology Museum, examining artifacts, and heading to the public library afterwards to continue reading about ancient civilizations. I can walk around the streets of Manila, Philippines, until I find a small park to spend my day in.
I could read about colonization in the country, and spend the rest of my day examining its present effects in the society. I am unbounded by strict schedules and general education requirements. I am free to explore the world in the most natural way possible, by living in it.”
Mary Kate Charron
“In my junior year of high school, my english teacher had us keep notebooks for the whole school year with the simple instruction to “write what you notice.” At that time in high school, I was focused on checking a lot of the normal high school boxes–getting my license, taking my first AP classes, and sitting for the SATs. I really wasn’t inclined to notice things beyond whatever shiny, new, important thing was filling my brain, but my teacher was insistent that we just look around and notice and record. It took a lot of getting used to, but the more I practiced, the better I got at looking around and absorbing; I began to feel I didn’t have to judge or evaluate the world around me, because I could instead notice, and then write. Here are a few excerpts from my notebook:
October 6: I love the feeling of swimming through the deep end, watching the water, watching your hands moving through the water… it feels like there’s no difference between moving through water and moving through air. Those moments make time feel frozen. The world is so still as I stroke underwater through the emptiness.
October 7: When I turned off the car today and pulled my key out of the ignition, I noticed a tiny little fly sitting on the edge of my key ring. I tried to brush it off at first, but it wouldn’t budge so I smiled and watched the little bug walk all over my keychain. Then it just flew away. I don’t know why it made me smile so much, but that little bug with impossibly tiny wings was just so cute.
March 10: The sky–I have no way of perfectly writing in every inch of the sky but it was one of the most striking morning skies of this year. Blood orange dripped up from the horizon and dissolved into a sea of pink, lavender, and fuschia that had been stewing in the deep blue night sky. The clouds gave the sky this fluffy texture, almost like cream cheese or frosting that had just been slathered around with a knife. Purple, pink, orange frosting… that’s what it was.
On my gap year, I want to practice closely noticing things like I did when keeping these notebooks, plus I want to get back into the habit of writing relentlessly, too!”
“For me, taking a gap year is the light at the end of the tunnel. I, like many my age, have spent the large majority of my in school. I have spent the last 17 years have my life confined to class rooms, limited in my ability to explore ideas of my own interest but instead forced to memorize and study what the school system has deemed relevant.
I am very thankful for the opportunity I have had to further my education, but looking back, I have learned the most through my experiences traveling. In the class room, I read about concepts, but while traveling I get to experience these ideas, and learn about different cultures and myself. I believe that to truly learn you must understand, and immersing yourself into a problem or topic is the best way to gain a sense of understanding. Taking a gap year would provide me with the freedom to dive into my global interests and deepen my knowledge about humanity and the world we live in.
We are all born with love and kindness for one another, humans who share this planet as our home. Intolerance and hate come from fear when we let our differences outshine our similarities. Traveling allows us to expand our world views beyond the lenses of our native countries. By connecting with others who have different experiences and ideas, we can broaden our understanding of humanity. This allows people from different places to feel a connection with others different from them. By spreading a sense of community beyond our countries boarders, we can create a more peaceful and unified world.”
Eva is from Indonesia, she is writing in her second language:
“The concept of Gap Year is not familiar in Indonesia, people usually go to school then University then looking for a job without taking gap year. It is sill a strange concept that when it we talk about it people will question you “why?” or “that is just gonna wasting your time”. However, I believe knowledge and wisdom can be gain other than from conventional education itself. For me, learn about yourself, discover more about self capacity and find your passion are the most important thing for an individual to do. Hence, it leads me eager to take the unusual step and want to take Gap Year.
There are several reasons why I am interested to take a Gap Year, first despite of my mature age and the job I have, I feel empty yet to find what my passion for, where this wondering and full of curiosity mind will leads me. Secondly, despite of what my parents always teach me about the traditional education and they even set the live path for me, for once in my lifetime I wanted to do what I want and what I passion for and I believe that taking gap year will help me to find my true color. Thirdly, I always find there something big and unique about history, culture, and the art of communications.
Since I was a little girl, my passion about culture takes me to visit lots of museum and spend my time reading about history and it fascinated me about how much culture each civilization can have, then I felt like a sparks and tingling sensation in my tummy, a sign when my curiosity hits. However, despite of the eagerness to found out more about history and culture where my passion laid, I cant pursue it since its not the one that my parents set up for me. Instead I work for a job I have no passion for, learn things that I never intend to, then it just hit me when I was on my laptop then opened a blog about person who spend their time doing gap year and how does it change their life, how they found themselves and gain knowledge as well as confidence and wisdom it wakening the curiosity which has been buried in years, therefore I would like to take a chance and make a big decision for myself by taking the opportunity applying for gap year.”
“Coming from an African family, the pressure begins at birth. Literally. Parents, your community and elders begin to predict your future and will tell you that you are destined for great success.
I grew up in a loving home situated along the coast of the Indian Ocean called Tanzania. My parents did everything to give us a better life than they had, consequently, they specifically pushed me to pave the way for my two younger sisters but still strived to support us in every way possible. With that being said, I always felt pressured to set a high standard. I have always loved learning and when I was blessed with an opportunity to go study in the U.S through a scholarship, I felt the pressure increase immensely. I remember my father telling me, “Farewell to our Tanzanian ambassador. Represent your country well.”
My college experience did not go as planned. My welcome week had a great-kick off in the ER and I continued to weave in and out of urgent care throughout the year. Due to the excruciating amount of pain, I was on narcotics for about 6 months. That sort of pain that was almost so traumatic to the extent that I became paralyzed with fear. I was 8,000 miles away from my primary support system, my family. I fell behind schoolwork, I missed exams, some of my official excusals didn’t offer me as much protection as I wish it did and I was literally failing some of my class. I then realized that my business school had a great reputation and the level of difficulty was very high. My achiever self couldn’t ignore this fact so I started to put pressure even more pressure on myself to do well. I hardly slept. I skipped meals. I wanted to study all the time and prove to those who kindly suggested I should take time off school that I could make it. Furthermore, I knew my whole family was depending on me to succeed so I would not dare disappoint my country by coming back home. Very quickly, school became a chore and I felt so numb. After my second year of school, I paused my life and decided to go study abroad in Brazil.
Travelling healed me. It mended every part of myself, re-ignited a flame in me that nearly burnout before I had a chance to truly shine. Getting away from the very fast-paced American culture, the heavy stress of finding the best internships and stellar grades showed me that there is more to life than the one traditional path that people carve out for us. I had never felt more alive in Brazil and after denying every urge in my body to choose the safer option after college—getting a corporate job—I want to take a gap year because I want to further enhance my real-world education and not the institutional education that has stressed me out of all my life.”
“I am a hard-working young woman who is passionate about learning. Despite little assistance from DHS, I have gained college credits during high school and am graduating in a few months. I want to gain experience culturally and academically; and studying abroad will be a great way to gain independence.
Three of the questions I would like to address on my Gap Year are:
1) How does this culture differ from my own and what can I take from it?
2) How can I adapt to different lifestyles that come with travelling?
3) How can I make a difference here?”