Global Gap Year Fellowship Blog

Is Music a Universal Language?

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

Two summers ago I attended a pre-college program at Davidson College where I took two college courses, one of which was called “The Universal Language of Music…Or Not?” In this class, we took the common phrase of “music is a universal language” and attempted to either validate it or debunk it. We studied a myriad of musical traditions from all around the non-Western world, from throat singing in Mongolia, to the didgeridoo in aboriginal Australia, to djembe drumming of West Africa.

Our mission in this three-week course was to break down these musical traditions, identify their basic mechanics of rhythm, melody, and harmony, and then compare them to those of standard Western music. After listening and studying lots of music from around the world, I had personally come to the conclusion that music was not a universal language, but […]

Endings and New Beginnings

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

This past year has by far been the most influential year of my life. From the initial applying for and discovering my acceptance into the fellowship over a year ago, to the planning, preparation, leaving home, living abroad and finally coming home, it’s been a long, challenging and beautiful process. I faced a lot of fears and conquered many uncertainties and doubts in the midst of integrating into new cultural environments and gaining countless invaluable skills from my work with different NGOs. I was pushed to be extremely resourceful and completely trusting in myself, which can be hard for any 19-year-old right out of high school! As a result, however, I have a new, undying confidence in myself and knowledge of what I’m capable of.

In addition, this past year has brought so many new people, experiences, skills, insights and […]

My Shibuya Crossing Epiphany

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

Shibuya Crossing is considered the busiest crosswalk in the world. Thousands of people cross the intersection every day. Uniformed children giggle together as they walk to school; stern businessmen rush by as they bark into their phones; starry-eyed tourists stumble, lost in the bustle and wonder of Tokyo. It’s easy to view everyone as one amorphous blob. After all, in life there’s you, everyone you know, and everyone else.

As I stood at Shibuya Crossing amongst hundreds of other people waiting for the pedestrian crossing signal, I felt invisible. All around me were strangers whom I would never know or interact with. They each had their own thoughts, fears, and ambitions; their life stories locked within them. Despite thinking of myself as an individual, to every single person in the crowd, I was just another one of the thousands […]

A Culture of Contrasts

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

Time has become such a variable figure of measurement for me in the past several months. On one hand, as I look into the near future and see the date I fly back to the United States on my calendar, I sit in awe over how quickly my gap year has seemed to come and go. However, then I think more about all that I have seen, done, learned and overcome, and I cannot believe that this time last year I was sitting in a classroom at Apex High twiddling my thumbs until graduation. I had no idea what this next year would bring my way, but I distinctly remember knowing I wanted something more than what those mundane spring semester classes were offering me. An adventure, challenges, beauty, understanding, exposure, something! Now, here I am in the third […]

Sunrise at Sri Pada

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

The most beautiful place I have ever seen is the hill country of Sri Lanka. Rolling, winding hills cover the region like waves in the ocean. They are green and lush with a myriad of flora. Tea plantations cover the sides like quilt patchwork. The occasional waterfall cascades down the sides of hills and falls into an immense lake in the valley below. Little villages of yellow and red houses are nestled in the crevices. It is hard to believe that it is real.

I went to the hill country to do one thing: climb Sri Pada. A mountain stretching almost 7,500 feet in the sky, it is a holy pilgrimage site for all religions. This ascent was the one thing that I felt determined to do when I came to this island nation, no matter how difficult the journey […]

Public Apology

The following post was written by Bridge Year Fellow Araseli Valverde.

I recognize that I am doing an amazing thing by living in Italy for six months. I’ve recently set the intention not to ruin it by running away from my faults or feeling any negative energy towards myself. So much has happened during my journey exploring the world, but I wanted to take some time to explore the journey that I’m also experiencing within.
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This public apology is to someone who I have undervalued. This public apology is to someone who I have put through a lot. This public apology is for someone who has deserved an apology for a long time, but has never received it until now. This public apology is for me.

I am finally taking the time to apologize to myself because I grew up learning to say “sorry” to just about everyone else – my sisters, […]

Staying and Playing in Sri Lanka

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

Up until now, I thought that the DMV had to be the most lethargic, bureaucratic office of nonsense known to man. I was sorely wrong. As I walked into the Immigration and Visa Services Office of Colombo, Sri Lanka, it was just before nine o’clock in the morning. I didn’t see the light of day again until almost two o’clock in the afternoon. At that point, I was really wishing that it was the DMV at home.

I visited the office to get my visa extended. I entered the small tropical island country of Sri Lanka with a visa that lasted for 30 days, but I intended to stay for four months. So, when those 30 days were up, I had no choice but to sacrifice myself to the pit of visa doom. I don’t exaggerate when I say that […]

By |February 21st, 2018|Gappers in the Field|

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|