Global Gap Year Fellowship Blog

“Mad” Travels in Madagascar

The following post was written by Marybeth Thomas.

I had never traveled outside of the United States prior to October 12, 2016 and never knew what to expect when I landed in Madagascar. I couldn’t sleep anticipating the moments, seconds even, leading to my arrival in the land that was foreign to me. My mind was racing at miles per minute and honestly, I didn’t know what to do with myself. Initially, I presumed that I would walk through Madagascar as peacefully as any other tourist, as if somewhere down the road, I had forgotten something, a recollection that would have been so pivotal in my future actions and reactions to scenarios presented to me within the country. Of course, my heart has tried to make me flee, to run home to the comfort I know, but my soul knows this is all part of God’s plan for my life.

On […]

More Than Just a Kodak Moment

The following post was written by Anna Bennett.

From the beginning my mother never liked the idea of me travelling to Madagascar. I didn’t know anyone there, didn’t know what I was going to be doing, and picked out my hostel at the last minute. It was a complete, all-in adventure. She was relieved when I told her fellow Gapper MaryBeth decided to join me a few weeks before leaving. Like El Salvador, I wanted to create a life in the area rather than try to visit every possible tourist attraction. At the hostel we stayed in we met many foreign travelers who were confused as to why we were staying in Antananarivo for four weeks. Somehow they felt they “could barely last two days in this boring city.” So far, we were having a great time making friends and tagging along for typical Malagasy activities.

“Be careful” they said. “Don’t […]

A view from South Africa: My thoughts on Trump from a post-apartheid nation

The following is a post written by Klaus Mayr. It is of a political nature and does not necessarily reflect the thoughts and opinions of all associated with the Campus Y/Global Gap Year Fellowship.

I love my country. It is my home, my family, my identity, my future.

The election of Donald J. Trump as president does not, and will not, change that.

But today is the first of many uniquely difficult days in our nation’s future. Not because Trump will completely turn it on its head and send it into oblivion – there are still many limits to his forthcoming power – but because we were just awoken from a falsely optimistic dream about the inevitable arrival of compassion and morality among the majority of our population.

The only remotely redeemable aspect of this election’s results is that they exposed a disconnect throughout our population, our media outlets, our policy makers — every […]

By |December 2nd, 2016|Gappers in the Field|

My Life When I’m Not Running from a Leopard

The following post was written by Klaus Mayr.

I realize I’ve not really written anything about the actual work I’m doing here in South Africa. Before I came to the Wits Rural Facility, I didn’t realize just how much I would love and grow from this volunteer placement. I know that not all of it will sound excessively intriguing to many people who read this, but I’ve come to find it quite intriguing, impactful, rewarding, and even thrilling sometimes.

I’m working for Dr. Wayne Twine, an associate professor from the University of the Witwatersrand and the manager of the SUNRAE (Sustaining Natural Resources in African Ecosystems) Program at the Wits Rural Facility, right down the road from Kruger National Park, one of the most remarkable places I’ve ever been to.

The SUNRAE Program seeks to understand the relationship between humans and their environment in the lowveld, Bushbuckridge region of South Africa. Wayne […]

By |December 1st, 2016|Gappers in the Field|

Worth a Story

This post was written by Quincy Godwin after his year as a Global Gap Year Fellow. 

Sometimes you tell a story that sucks.

It’s an inevitable scenario stimulated by the warm glow of a loose conversation that knows no boundaries: Everyone is sharing a time when the rain ruined their day. Some are funny, some are tragic, yours doesn’t quite connect.

It’s your turn to tell, but the anecdote that you’re thinking about doesn’t really fit the format of the other stories at all. The rain has never ruined your day. In truth, it’s embellished many of them; you love the smell that announces its arrival, you love the electricity that’s in the air, you love the way it feels on your skin and the way it makes the whole world stand still like Christmas lights strung around an intimate dark room.

But you can’t quite capture the words to describe all those […]

By |November 30th, 2016|Post Gap Year|

The Ghost of Rukmani Devi Mawatha Road

I have been in Sri Lanka for about a month now, and I love it here. Each day, I’ve collected fascinating stories, read a mass of books, and eaten delicious food. I absolutely adore everyone I am living with so I’ve enjoyed many amusing evenings of laughs and conversations.

Also, the work I’ve done has been incredibly interesting. I initially shadowed doctors at the Negombo District Hospital, alternating through wards such as the mental health, occupational therapy, and rheumatology while learning about the health system in Sri Lanka as a whole. Currently, I am working with the regional epidemiologist of the area, the Auntie I am staying with, and we have been traveling around, checking different critical dengue sites. Furthermore, it’s been an emotional but pleasant experience reacquainting with extended family after so many years.

In addition to my work and spending time with family and friends, I’ve had a great […]

By |October 31st, 2016|Gappers in the Field|

Tents, Tarantulas, and Tears

The following blog post was written by Lauren Jurgensen.

Thursday, 9/29, marked the conclusion of the first month of my greatest endeavor yet. An entire month living in Puerto Rico, taking care of myself (mostly) and constantly celebrating the ethereal beauty of life.

I woke up as usual, got ready for work, and had peanut butter and a cup of tea for breakfast.

We take breaks at nine, so I grabbed some leftovers and headed for the tent. We have a large, metal-and-tarp tent that vaguely resembles something you would use for a wedding. Under it sit a white table and two picnic benches. I ate my leftovers, had a glass of tea and laid down on a bench. I wasn’t feeling so hot. My stomach was turning, and I had a growing headache.

Hurricane Matthew was brewing off the coast and we were getting waves, wind, and rain. The winds started picking […]

By |October 31st, 2016|Gappers in the Field|

Running, Jogging, and Walking for My Life in the South African Bush

The following post was written by Global Gap Year Fellow Klaus Mayr.

“Just keep hanging a left and you’ll end up right back in Caravilla,” Wayne said, showing me a route through the game reserve as he whipped through the South African bush in his little truck. “Just be back before dusk,” he added with a smirk, “that’s when Leopard comes out.”


Wayne’s comment didn’t scare me. It was a warning. I knew that if I adhered to his advice, I’d be totally fine.

So just a day later, I went for it. Leaving behind my phone and my watch because, of course, I just wanted to be alone with nature. I didn’t want to be confined by this artificial idea we call “time” or the completely overrated ability to call people.

So there I was, staring off over the dirt road that leads away from Caravilla, the housing area I live in […]

By |October 10th, 2016|Gappers in the Field|