by Emily Gabbard

Arriving home was easy for me. After living on a remote island for two months, showering in ice cold water (that I would share with my dirty clothes as I washed them), and eating rice, rice, and some more rice; I was thrilled to be home in what seemed like a luxurious palace.

I was excited to wash my clothes in a real washer and dryer. I was excited to take a hot shower, the first in over four months. I was happy to see my family and friends. I did not have a problem with being back at home.

That lasted about two weeks.

Once I had settled back into my normal routine at home, I noticed that I became bored. Where was the adventure? Where was the continuous volunteer work? Why did I have so many things? I missed the people I had been living and working with. I missed the volunteer work. I missed the countries and the cultures.

I wanted to continue my travels and extend my volunteer placements, but I knew that I needed to be at home. One reason is that I had major eye surgery at the beginning of June. I needed to allow my body the time to heal before I embark on another adventure. Another reason I came back home is because I needed to work and earn money. I allowed myself the summer before school started to accomplish and finish things that needed to be done.

Although my travels and volunteer placements have ended, my gap year is still a huge part of my life. I have given, and will continue to give, presentations about my travels and volunteer work. It is an easy topic to discuss and I love reliving those memories through my presentations.

I especially love to talk about my time in Kathmandu, Nepal. I express how wonderful my experiences were in that beautiful country. I want other people to feel compelled to help the loving people of Nepal. After the tragic events that occurred, the Nepalese need a lot of support. My plan is to create fundraising projects that will have a snowball effect of support. The first step: these presentations.

I have given three presentations so far this summer about the Global Gap Year Fellowship and the wonderful experience that I had. I feel like it’s a great, fun way to market gap years. Almost 150 people were at my last presentation. These people were so amazing–after my talk they gave me a standing ovation. Wow. I never thought my gap year would lead me here.

Emily Gabbard Presentation 2The most exciting news is that now all of these people are thinking about donating to my organization in Nepal in order to help with the difficulties now faced after the tragic earthquake.

This past year was an eye-opening journey. My travels and volunteer work do not stop with this experience. I plan on volunteering and staying involved with the things I am passionate about. I plan on studying abroad and continuing to travel. The beginning of my gap year was the start of endless opportunities.