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So far jenthom has created 6 entries.

Is Music a Universal Language?

The following post was written by Gap Year Fellow Jennings Dixon.

Two summers ago I attended a pre-college program at Davidson College where I took two college courses, one of which was called “The Universal Language of Music…Or Not?” In this class, we took the common phrase of “music is a universal language” and attempted to either validate it or debunk it. We studied a myriad of musical traditions from all around the non-Western world, from throat singing in Mongolia, to the didgeridoo in aboriginal Australia, to djembe drumming of West Africa.

Our mission in this three-week course was to break down these musical traditions, identify their basic mechanics of rhythm, melody, and harmony, and then compare them to those of standard Western music. After listening and studying lots of music from around the world, I had personally come to the conclusion that music was not a universal language, but […]

Sunrise at Sri Pada

The following post was written by Gap Year Fellow Jennings Dixon.

The most beautiful place I have ever seen is the hill country of Sri Lanka. Rolling, winding hills cover the region like waves in the ocean. They are green and lush with a myriad of flora. Tea plantations cover the sides like quilt patchwork. The occasional waterfall cascades down the sides of hills and falls into an immense lake in the valley below. Little villages of yellow and red houses are nestled in the crevices. It is hard to believe that it is real.

I went to the hill country to do one thing: climb Sri Pada. A mountain stretching almost 7,500 feet in the sky, it is a holy pilgrimage site for all religions. This ascent was the one thing that I felt determined to do when I came to this island nation, no matter how difficult the journey […]

By |April 6th, 2018|Gappers in the Field|

Staying and Playing in Sri Lanka

The following post was written by Gap Year Fellow Jennings Dixon.

Up until now, I thought that the DMV had to be the most lethargic, bureaucratic office of nonsense known to man. I was sorely wrong. As I walked into the Immigration and Visa Services Office of Colombo, Sri Lanka, it was just before nine o’clock in the morning. I didn’t see the light of day again until almost two o’clock in the afternoon. At that point, I was really wishing that it was the DMV at home.

I visited the office to get my visa extended. I entered the small tropical island country of Sri Lanka with a visa that lasted for 30 days, but I intended to stay for four months. So, when those 30 days were up, I had no choice but to sacrifice myself to the pit of visa doom. I don’t exaggerate when I say that […]

By |February 21st, 2018|Gappers in the Field|

My New Neighbors Have Tails

The following post was written by Gap Year Fellow Jennings Dixon.

Almost everyday, just past lunchtime, I receive visitors. Looking over the wall in front of my apartment and school, I know that once I have eaten, others will expect to eat as well. Almost like clockwork, three to four guests jump down from the coconut trees and land onto the bright orange house with lime green shutters across the street. Like experienced acrobats, they swing from the power lines with so much speed and nimbleness, it is not unlike flying. Within a matter of seconds, my visitors have arrived. I can only begin to guess what they will do that day.

My visitors, of course, are monkeys. Having lived my entire life in North Carolina, I had never seen a monkey before, unless it was behind glass at the zoo. But to see one so up close and wild it […]

By |November 10th, 2017|Gappers in the Field|

A Pit Stop

The following post was written by Gap Year Fellow Jennings Dixon.

I was supposed to be in Shanghai for just a week. I was going to be there for a nice seven-day trip to see and experience the city, and then I would fly to Hong Kong to start my service work.

It did not happen like that.

I have learned that things sometimes don’t work out. It doesn’t matter how much you plan. For me, that has always been a difficult concept to grasp. I am a Type A person; I like to plan and be in control of my life and its happenings all the time. Spontaneity has been a stranger to me. Until now.

Within 48 hours (three days before I was supposed to leave for Hong Kong) every single placement that I had for the year fell through. My entire itinerary disappeared, leaving me with nothing. It was utter […]

By |September 22nd, 2017|Gappers in the Field|

Unexpected Happenings

The following post was written by Gap Year Fellow Jennings Dixon.

I really don’t know what to say. These past few months have been utterly, undeniably, unexpected. If you had told me a year ago that I was not going to college this fall, I wouldn’t have believed you. If you had told me a year ago that I was going to spend this year in China and Southeast Asia, I really wouldn’t have believed you. I didn’t even know what a gap year was a year ago. I just thought once a person graduated from high school, they would directly move on to college without a second glance. Apparently, that rule does not apply to everyone.

It is strange to think that I am doing something so unconventional. Seeing all of my closest friends move on to college has been weird. For the past thirteen years of my life, they […]