What can I say? Suddenly I’m about to go back to the USA, and I have no idea what to write. No blog post could possibly cover all of the emotions I’m feeling, nor every experience I’ve had, nor every friend I’ve made, nor everything I’ve learned. All I can say is this: if I’ve gained anything from this gap year, it’s an acute understanding that I know a lot less than I thought I did. In fact, I’ve come to realize that I don’t know much at all. I’ve gained so much valuable life experience since I left the States ten months ago, but the truth is, I still have a lot of growing to do. 

Before I left for this year, my aim was to mature, to become what I used to think of as an “adult.” Now, I’m not sure what that word even means. I think I expected to feel very strongly as if I had entered into an all-new phase of my life, wherein I’d have very little “growing up” left to do, as, ideally, I would have already done that. Well, I’ve figured it out – I guess we don’t ever stop growing up. 

That being said, I suppose the strongest emotion I’m feeling right now is relief. I did something challenging and wonderful, and I’m happy about it. Now it’s time to move on and enter the next chapter of my life: an internship at UNC’s Campus Y with the Global Gap Year Fellowship – the organization which provided me with this life-changing opportunity in the first place. It feels like I’ve come full-circle, and I’m very excited to have the chance to contribute something to the Fellowship in return for this incredible year I’ve had.

Of course, part of me feels sad as well. I’ve left a few great friends and incredible students back in La Esperanza – all over the world, actually – and it’s never easy to leave people you love. Luckily, a few of the other volunteers I’ve worked with live back home in the states, and they have their own homes for me to come and see. (Jeana, Ashleigh, Sam, Nate, Shabby – this means you. Prepare for a visit.) What’s more, I now have friends who live in countries scattered throughout the globe, meaning I have a perfect reason to travel more in the near future!

And now, to conclude my last ever gap year blog: Thailand, Madagascar, Spain, Bolivia, and Peru. I owe a big part of myself and my life experiences to each of these countries, and I hope that my efforts at contributing something valuable to some of their citizens (public service-wise) have been successful. I’ve immensely enjoyed the experience of volunteering in every NGO I’ve worked with, from cleaning wounds at MadaClinics Madagascar to giving grammar lessons at HorizonSchools Peru. I also want to say thank you to all the people who have crossed paths with me this year. In every place, no matter how far from home, I’ve made great friends, all of whom I already miss. I have learned something valuable from each of my students and colleagues, and I’m really, really grateful to have been able to share my journey with them. 
 
That’s all, folks. 

April 2014

April 2014

Fatima

Fatima