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The following post was written by Global Gap Year Fellow Karsen Kennedy.

Throughout my high school career, I never would’ve imagined myself breaking away from the “traditional” path of college immediately after high school and pursuing a gap year. It almost felt wrong and like I was going against everything I’ve been showcased and taught by all my peers around me. Almost as if I was making a huge mistake and wouldn’t achieve the same success of the more traditional path. My name is Karsen Kennedy and I am from Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina. I’m 18 years old and have a family of five; mom, dad, older brother, younger sister, and lastly myself. I am passionate about veganism, animals, the environment, music, history, learning about new cultures, and all things arts-related.

Even though I never imagined this, I have developed many reasons for why a gap year is for me, and it all really boils down to wanting to see people. It may seem very broad and general, I know, but it really consists of a lot. I want to see new cultures and how they shape people into the person they are and their beliefs. I want to appreciate people in all aspects. Not only would I be learning all this information about people, but I would also be learning a lot about myself. How will I adapt to different cultural and societal beliefs? How will I take my experience living in said place and use it after this year? Despite not knowing the answers to these questions yet, I want to experience a new setting in my life. The change of a new environment and the chance to see people would be so beneficial for me as an individual, as a teenager, and as a student. I can expand on my current passions, develop new ones, and end up on the path I need to be on.

With that being said some of my more specific gap year goals include learning about and experiencing the environment within different regions of both the US and the world. Additionally, I want to become more knowledgeable on the topic of organic farming and sustainability and what that can look like in my life as someone who cares deeply about those topics. I would also like to become more aware and open-minded of the people and world around me- myself included. Looking at more of a broad perspective, I want to become very adequate in a new language to further my communication with more groups of people. Tying into that, I hope to study music from different places/cultures because music is a universal language as well.

To begin my gap year, I am going to join WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farming) and learn more about organic farming and sustainability which are both things I am highly interested in and want to dive further into. By the time you read this, I will already be on my first WWOOF farm in Asheville, North Carolina learning so many things. This blog is just one of the many ways that I will be documenting and sharing my gap year. Here’s to the beginning of meeting new people, deepening, and developing both old and new passions.

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