About Emily Gabbard

Carolina Population Center

Gap Year Joy and Grief: Reflections from Nusa Penida

by Emily Gabbard

“Every generation has the obligation to free men’s minds for a look at the new world…to look out from a higher plateau than the last generation.” – Ellison S. Onizaka

About a month ago, I left everything I knew in Nepal for my new adventure in Bali. Leaving is never easy, no matter how much I prepare. Once I arrived in the Kathmandu airport, I was already alone; I was leaving all the friendships I had made over the past 9 weeks.

I love meeting these amazing people that come and go through my life, like water slipping through hands.

I recently received an email from the founder of Nepal Orphans Home. He sent me a letter that one of my favorite students had written for me. This letter brought feelings from immense joy to that awful feeling of “I miss this.” This is what my gap year is made […]

My travels and volunteer work do not stop with this experience

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. […]

By |July 28th, 2015|Re-entry|

Mixed Emotions in Nepal

by Emily Gabbard

Colorful, loud, interesting, busy… These are the words I would use to describe Kathmandu, Nepal.

I have been part of various volunteer projects during my first month here.

I teach English at EDUC (Education and Development for Underprivileged Children) for two hours every morning. I find this school amazing; they are giving street vendors’ kids an education for free, which means, essentially, that they are giving these children living in poverty a chance to have more options in their lives. The principal of this school is one of the coolest people I have met. She is caring, funny, and just amazing. She, along with the rest of the teaching staff, receive little to no income from the school. They are basically volunteering for the betterment of the children.

I help by teaching English to a class full of 8, 9, and 10 year olds. The kids are so happy to learn […]

The Pain of Leaving Means It Mattered: From Peru to Nepal

by Emily Gabbard

Since my last blog post, I’ve experienced some pretty incredible things.

One of those things was hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

A person is supposed to train (a lot) for this hike. I did not train at all, and, furthermore, I was sick with the flu! I had to take antibiotics along the trail; in hindsight, I think those antibodies must have given me some secret power to get through the trek.

I was with a group of people, but I had never felt so alone in my life. It seemed like everyone else had someone with whom they were sharing the experience. This was the hardest thing I had ever done, mentally and physically, but it was the most rewarding experience of my life.

Also, this was the perfect time for me to reflect on my past two months volunteering at the Horizon English school.

As I hiked, I thought about my amazing […]

“Having a Great Life Doesn’t Mean Having Great Things.”

by Emily Gabbard

I have now reached the point where I am counting down the days until I leave Peru. Not because I want to leave sooner, but because I have fallen in love with this place and cannot bare the thought of finally leaving. It’s a strange thought: leaving a place that you know you will never see again and also leaving people that you will never see again. I’m not saying that I won’t come back, I’m saying that I will miss living in this moment. I have less than a month until I leave Peru.My blonde hair, green eyes, and light skin gives me away as a minority in Peru. People yell in the streets “gringa,” “americana,” and many other phrases that state that I am clearly not a native. The other day my roommates and I were stopped in the center of the city by some […]

By |November 14th, 2014|Gappers in the Field|

Work and Adventure in Peru: My First Gap Year Month

by Emily Gabbard

I get off of a plane at 4:30 a.m. in Trujillo, Peru. I’m running on no sleep from my travels. In the first hour, I compete in a food eating contest. I eat a mixture of bread, jello, an egg, a banana, and a soda. My partner and I come in last place. I feel like I’m in a parallel universe or something. But things normalize soon.

Let me explain a little bit about what I am doing in Trujillo. I am an English teacher at the Horizon School. The Horizon School was founded by Manuel and Lino Gutierrez, who believed that teaching children English would provide them with a better future. This school is not exactly in Trujillo, it is located in the “slums” of the city in a smaller part called La Esperanza. I do not believe that this small town is as bad as people claim it to be. […]

All the Planning Has Paid Off: Leaving for Peru

by Emily Gabbard

Last weekend I visited Chapel Hill for the first time since the GGYF orientation. It was strange going back into the Campus Y knowing exactly where and what I will be doing with my gap year. During orientation I felt overwhelmed. What countries should I go to? What service projects should I help with? What will I need to bring on my gap year? How much money will I be spending?

Five months later all of those questions are finally answered. I thought I was prepared after orientation weekend; however, that was just the beginning.

This entire summer has consisted of working on my gap year proposal, buying necessary items for my gap year, purchasing travel insurance, plane tickets, a big backpack, hiking shoes, water purifier, emailing the directors of all of the programs, and working on my gap year proposal once again. I did not know that this […]

By |October 1st, 2014|Pre-departure|

Beginning The Journey

Waking up early on Friday morning to go to orientation weekend was exciting and nerve racking. I was excited to jump into this amazing journey called the Global Gap Year. I have to admit that I was a little nervous to meet all of the other past and current fellows; however, once I met all of them my nerves were gone. I wanted these people to become my great friends, and I’m pretty sure they will be. I’m extremely excited to begin this new journey with these great people as a support system.


Meeting new people is always a bit challenging. Ice breakers were the way to go when meeting everyone for the first time. The fellows and gappers talked about their most interesting fact, along other interesting ice breakers thanks to Jasmine and Keegan. After the ice breakers I felt like I knew more about the people I would […]

By |April 20th, 2014|Pre-departure|