Global Gap Year Fellowship Blog

Water Wisdom

The following post was written by Gap Year Fellow Natalie Barth.

The current crisis in Cape Town is making international headlines. Cape Town is on track to be the first major city to completely run out of water. “Day Zero,” the day the taps are going to be turned off, is currently scheduled for April 16th. Working for an environmental organization in the midst of the crisis has given me a particularly unique perspective on the issue. My volunteer placement is with a non-profit organization called Greenpop, whose mission is to plant trees around sub-Saharan Africa through activations and festivals. Their quintessential idea is to make greening popular, thus the name Greenpop.

However, the impending “Day Zero” and the worsening water restrictions have made things increasingly difficult. Each individual is only allowed to use 50 liters of water per day for everything, including toilet flushes, shower, cooking, drinking water, washing dishes […]

By |February 15th, 2018|Gappers in the Field|

Let There Be Light

The following post was written by Gap Year Fellow Shelby Watson.

During the two-week Global Gap Year Summer Institute I don’t remember any former gappers talking about bad days. Of course they told us funny anecdotes about falling off motorcycles or running lost through city streets, but not one person shared less-entertaining stories of hard times – like not fitting in, sleepless nights, and lonely dinners and weekends. During my time in South Africa I often wondered why this was. Why would they have not warned me?

I tried very hard to go into my gap year without extravagant or adventurous expectations, but I soon realized that I was still not prepared for the struggles. Maybe you can’t really prepare. But I do want to talk about them, just in case there is a future gapper out there like me.

Now that the first half of my gap year is […]

By |February 5th, 2018|Gappers in the Field|

Déjà Vu and Bread

The following post was written by Gap Year Fellow Georgia Morgan.

As I get off my final flight feeling weary-eyed, fatigued and vulnerable, I am hit with a warm burst of air and the salty smell of the ocean. The sun is glowing on the horizon through the orange dust of the desert. I go through the motions of customs and baggage claim until I see the bright and smiling faces of a fellow gapper, Katie, and my new coworkers, Maisie and Jamila.

When you land in a completely foreign country for the first time, those first several hours are quite honestly the most overwhelming moments EVER. After traveling for hours on end, feeling like a zombie from little sleep and food, you are then dropped into the center of life in another world.

We’re driving through the city in the middle of rush hour to meet my host family for the […]

By |January 22nd, 2018|Gappers in the Field|

Taking Responsibility

The following post was written by Gap Year Fellow Viktoria Alston.

Traveling alone is a liberating experience. From the moment I stepped off the plane in Peru, I was responsible for myself and only myself. I was completely alone for the first time and in a foreign country where I only had a basic grasp of the culture and language.

On my own, I quickly recognized that every action has a direct consequence. Sometimes my choices resulted in awesome experiences, like standing at the top of Torre Mirador. Other times, my choices resulted in less-than-ideal circumstances, like being kicked off a bus at 3 a.m. in a rough area of Quito because I slept through my stop. During my travels, I came to truly understand the meaning of the word “responsibility.”

As great as traveling is, nothing can beat being home.

I’ve been home for the holidays for the past couple […]

By |January 19th, 2018|Gappers in the Field|

On Borders

The following post was written by Gap Year Fellow Kaitlin Galindo.

My head pops out of a 1920s Greco-Turkish War military bunker atop a cliff side on the Greek island of Lesbos. It’s 35 degrees and the wind off the waves of the Aegean in front of me chills to the bone. Armed with a thermal imaging scope I scan the water. The mountains of Turkey tower just above the horizon. I see a coast guard ship, a freighter, a ferry, but not what I’m looking for. No dinghies tonight. Not yet.

Dinghies are the small plastic inflatable rafts with motors haphazardly secured to them that carry 30-50 crammed people across freezing water in the dead of night.

It is about as safe as it sounds.

Part of my work here is to spot dinghies that have made it into Greek waters. I make sure they are not capsizing and notify the rescue […]

By |January 2nd, 2018|Gappers in the Field|


The following post was written by Gap Year Fellow Natalie Barth.

I have been home for a few weeks for the holidays. Issues with my next placement and outbound flight that were difficult to solve from afar led to me returning to the United States for the month of December. Every time we go to my grandparents’ house for Christmas, we attend the church service on Christmas Eve. At the end of the service, the candles are lit, the light is turned off and the entire congregation sings “Silent Night”. The moment the candles were lit I was instantly reminded of being in San Gerardo de Rivas when the power was out in the village after a few days of heavy rain back in September. The pitch-black night was lit only by candles and I had no connection to my family or friends for two days. Tropical Storm Nate also […]

By |January 2nd, 2018|Gappers in the Field|


The following post was written by Gap Year Fellow Kaitlin Galindo.

I am precariously perched on weathered orange shingles of the roof of an abandoned hotel. The final thin finger of the Aegean Sea in front of me, wrapping around my island and securing it to Europe, just barely. I look past this channel into the southern mountains of Turkey. I see a tower, a hotel, a mosque. At night you can even watch car lights dash over hills. It’s right there. Only 5 miles of sea dividing Europe from Asia.

It’s the morning after my first night in Scala Symineas on the island of Lesbos, Greece, and I am surprised by the calmness of the day in this idyllic Greek beach town after witnessing the chaos of night.

To be honest, I am not a great solo traveler. It stresses me out; airport food is the worst, and I don’t […]

By |November 29th, 2017|Gappers in the Field|

My New Neighbors Have Tails

The following post was written by Gap Year Fellow Jennings Dixon.

Almost everyday, just past lunchtime, I receive visitors. Looking over the wall in front of my apartment and school, I know that once I have eaten, others will expect to eat as well. Almost like clockwork, three to four guests jump down from the coconut trees and land onto the bright orange house with lime green shutters across the street. Like experienced acrobats, they swing from the power lines with so much speed and nimbleness, it is not unlike flying. Within a matter of seconds, my visitors have arrived. I can only begin to guess what they will do that day.

My visitors, of course, are monkeys. Having lived my entire life in North Carolina, I had never seen a monkey before, unless it was behind glass at the zoo. But to see one so up close and wild it […]

By |November 10th, 2017|Gappers in the Field|