The following blog post was written by Global Gap Year Fellow, Andrew McBride.

In all honesty, I had no idea what I was doing when I clicked the box on my CommonApp to be considered for this fellowship. The idea of taking a gap year had never seemed like a possibility to me in my grand plan for life where I had always planned on going straight to college and after that on to whatever career field I ended up deciding on. But after hearing that I had been accepted into the fellowship and learning more about the work that past fellows have conducted I knew that this was the perfect opportunity for me. The stress and massive workload from high school have definitely taken their toll and I am more than ready for a change of pace and an opportunity to give back. I’ve had so much fun meeting everyone in the fellowship and the Campus Y as a whole as well as planning out what the next year is going to look like for me.

For the first part of my gap year, I will be working with a World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms placement on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. There I will be working at a small, family-owned, organic nursery and aquaponics center that focuses on raising native Hawaiian species and educating the public on how to raise and care for these species. I have always enjoyed and had an appreciation for the outdoors and nature as a whole. Working with Waiahole Nursery and Garden Center will allow me to help rehabilitate and give back to one of the most damaged ecosystems in the U.S.. I plan on using my time in Hawaii to not only learn more about organic farming practices and aquaponics but to also spend time developing and maturing as an individual who is alone for the first time.

I’d be lying if I said that leaving didn’t fill me with anxiety and anticipation about how far I will be from my family and home. This past summer has been one of the best and I’ve loved being able to appreciate the final moments I’ve had with friends and family before we all left home. But moving to a new location filled with entirely new people where I won’t have the comforts of Huntersville, NC will be good for me in the end. I hope that over the course of this year I will be able to grow as a person and make many meaningful connections with the people I encounter through my service. I know that I will miss all of my family and friends back home and am anxious about what will happen after I leave, but I am excited for what growth lies ahead of me.