The following blog post was written by Global Gap Year Fellow Ayanna Phillips.

I had mixed emotions upon first glance at the Global Gap Year Fellowship opportunity on Chapel Hill applications. I didn’t know whether the option was something I wanted to partake in. I knew that taking one would be different than most and I had to really consider whether this was a turn I wanted to take. After some thought, I decided to apply for it nevertheless. Particularly due to the fact that the last two-three years of high school (Merancas Middle College High School) came with a lot of stress with preparing for and completing college applications, taking high school and college courses, working, etc. To add to the stress, COVID-19 became the main issue as cases hit an all-time high in North Carolina. Simultaneously causing a period of quarantine and changes in my senior year which was not easy by any means. Therefore, GGYF was a definite yes by the time I graduated high school.

  The ability to discover and explore new areas and cultures was an opportunity that I ultimately could not pass up. Hence the reason why I decided to participate in the fellowship. It would alleviate stress and give me the chance to focus on me, myself, and I as personal growth is one of my most prominent goals. At this moment, my feelings are at an all-time high as I prepare to leave for my first placement. From anxiousness to excitement, I am overwhelmed with emotion. The Summer Institute helped significantly with planning and organizing as far as who, what, when, where, why, and how. I was semi-lost beforehand but I can officially say that with the help of the GGYF family, I finally got it together (well somewhat lol).

With my first placement in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, I will be aiding in the efforts to restore a resort affected by Hurricane Maria. While I have never been to Puerto Rico, I am excited to explore the area and meet new faces. I hope with this opportunity I can gain new experiences and confidence as my comfort zone is challenged throughout my placements, especially with the Virgin Islands up next! Therefore different may not be so bad after all. I can’t wait to see what this gap year has in store and with that being said…I’m off to Puerto Rico. Let’s see how it goes!