Gappers in the Field

Pre-Departure: Places and Liminal Spaces

The following post was written by Bridge Year Fellow Karen Xu. Karen is spending the first part of her brudge year in Mexicali, Mexico with California Department of Public Health’s Office of Binational Border Health .

The first time I applied to a gap year program at the end of high school, I was 17. I was too young to apply for UNC’s Global Gap Year Fellowship at the time, so I applied to Global Citizen Year- and was accepted! I was set to go to Ecuador, more excited than I had ever been. However, I ended up being unable to go. I remember the disappointment of that excitement being taken from me, the path to a gap year being cut off. But two years later, after going through my freshman and sophomore year of college, here I am, embarking on the gap year that my 17-year-old self dreamed of. […]

By |November 12th, 2019|Gappers in the Field|

As Prepared As Possible

The following post was written by Global Gap Year Fellow Taylor Molina. Taylor is spending her gap year in Ecuador with Global Citizen Year.

I like being prepared. I like knowing what is going to happen, what to bring, and what I need to know. I want to know the game plan. Before I went on my gap year, I talked to people to try and prepare myself. I knew that we were probably going to eat every meal with spoons, that I was going to put popcorn in my soup, and that I was going to be homesick.

I was as ready as I could be, or… I thought I was as ready as I could be. The thing is, no one is really ever prepared for political unrest.

For those of you who don’t know, Ecuador has been in a state of political unrest due to fuel subsidies in correlation to […]

By |October 29th, 2019|Gappers in the Field|

On the Road to Seoul

The following blog post was written by Global Gap Year Fellow Sarah Duncan. She is volunteer with Justice for North Korea in Seoul, South Korea during the first half of her gap year.

3 connecting flights and 7,106 miles later, I finally arrived at my first gap year destination: Seoul, South Korea! Korea is not on the typical backpacking route in Asia but I was determined to stay here for a number of reasons. My main objectives for coming to Korea were to connect with my mom’s heritage, improve my Korean, and work with an NGO whose mission I knew would align with my values. I wasn’t really sure if I would successfully reach all of these goals but I knew that it would be worth a shot. All in all, I didn’t expect too much before boarding my first flight. It wasn’t until I landed in Incheon Airport and […]

By |October 29th, 2019|Gappers in the Field|

Hey, You Never Know: Dealing with Uncertainty in Mi’kma’ki

The following post was written by Global Gap Year Fellow Jacob Gerardi.

Author’s Note: Throughout this blog post, I will be referring to locations I visited throughout “Nova Scotia” using their Indigenous, Mi’kmaq place names. These place names were used for centuries, if not millennia, prior to the colonization of the area, so it is more fitting to use them due to the purpose of my visit to “Nova Scotia”. Next to the correct, Mi’kmaq place names will appear their English, colonized equivalent in parenthesis.

A canceled flight, a delayed flight. A canceled ceremony in Kejimkujik national park, a powwow missed at Gold River. A bus waited for for three hours in the cold outside the Wagmatcook Reserve gas bar, a category two hurricane and the power outages that accompanied it. As the phrase goes, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Thus initially seemed to go my visit to […]

By |October 18th, 2019|Gappers in the Field|

It’s All About the Cows

The following post was written by Global Gap Year Fellow Taylor Molina. Taylor is spending her gap year in Ecuador with Global Citizen Year.

It is hard to pack everything that has happened in these last few weeks into one blog post. I mean, it has been a pretty eventful time filled with walking my cows, making some incredible friends, and getting E. Coli. So where do I begin? I guess I can start with the cows.

During the first full day with my host family they asked me if I wanted to go on a walk. I grabbed my shoes and was told to grab a hat- you need one in Ecuador- and walked to the street. There, I saw my Mamá, Abuelita, and two sisters. Each sister was holding a lead rope with a cow attached. I was introduced to both vacas, or cows, and learned that the smaller brown […]

Pre-Departure: Leaning into Fear

The following post was written by Global Gap Year Fellow Nya Patton. Nya is spending the first part of her gap year in Brazil working on rainforest conservation with Iracambi.

As I sat down to begin this blog post, staring at the blank, ripe, untouched Google document, I struggled with what to title it. As the week is coming to an end, and my flight to Brazil draws in closer and closer, I realize just how scared I am. Not necessarily about the long plane rides, the countries I’ve never been to, or with languages I’ve never spoken, but about the bigger picture things. I guess I am mostly scared of just how this gap year, starting off with the same blank canvas as this Google doc, will change, shape, and develop me.

I have always been the kind of person to dive into uncertainty; there is something about the taste of […]

By |August 29th, 2019|Gappers in the Field|

Pre-Departure: Reconstruction and Regrowth

The following post was written by Global Gap Year Fellow Jacob Gerardi.

I have to admit it: I’m a huge fan of cheesy, totally cliché and horrible young adult romance novels. The academic part of me says that they are silly and unrealistic, that things never work in such an idealistic fashion. I know it is true, yet again and again I find myself returning to these same teenage-brain tickling tropes. There is something deeply settling in the fact that the stories usually end well, a neat bow tied on top of a package of purely farcical plot. Their neatness appeals to the sense of organization I’ve had steeped into me.

Every day of high school, I’d write down all of my homework and my personal objectives as well, things as basic as “floss twice tonight” or as weighty as “finish UNC application”. My fellow gappers, many passionate in their love […]

A Confessional

[There’s no hidden meaning to this picture. They’re just goats. Running through the streets. Enjoy.]

Can I be honest? I really hate writing these. I hate imagining every single one of you passively scanning the words that I sat and broke literary bread with for days, agonizing over whether their connotations are accurate portrayals of my experience. They’re not. They never will be.

I hate the tweaking and modifying and snipping and pruning as I remind myself of the depths of the Internet and its perpetual accessibility.

I squirm at the thought of others perusing my recklessly sculpted prose the way I sifted through those who went before me, searching for collected artifacts of wisdom.

I hate trying to say everything and being left with nothing. With a buffet of the breadcrumbs of my frenzied mind.

I hate the minimalism and insufficiency of an enlarged moment. I hate sharing myself in […]