About Kaitlin Harlow

Campus Y Administration

My Life in Peru (VIDEO)

by Kaitlin Harlow

After I got home from Central America, I went to Peru for a little over three months. I saw beautiful places in the sierra and the costa, made amazing friends, sampled some of the best food on the planet, and learned more about education and international development than I ever expected–all through volunteering with a nonprofit named Building Dignity.

I learned that one secret to teaching is to make a fool of yourself in such a precise way that the kids are laughing and at ease but also still invested in the activity and not ignoring you. It’s an art form. I also learned Spanish (for real finally because it was the language I spoke 95% of the time) and all about the unpredictability, loneliness, and triumph of backpacking solo.

I spent New Years dazed and confused by the staggering wealth of Miraflores and downtown Lima, a radiant afternoon […]

Mud and Machetes on a Volcano Island Jungle Farm

by Kaitlin Harlow
I am currently volunteering in the desert. My shoes are always full of sand, my face sometimes sunburns at 8:30 in the morning, and the last time it rained my entire host family freaked out and proclaimed that climate change is destroying the world. Here in Perú, surrounded by this dry and dusty landscape, I find myself thinking often of the greenest place I have ever been: Ometepe Island, Lake Nicaragua.
Finca Bona Fide, a 43-acre educational farm on Isla de Ometepe in the southwest of Nicaragua, is full of coconut trees, tropical fruit plants, weird berries, colorful butterflies, birds, bugs, mud, and monkeys. The closest things to “indoors” at the farm are the compost toilets, since they actually have four reed walls and a roof. Everything is hot and green, and it is all framed by gorgeous views of Lake Nicaragua and the dark silhouette of one […]

It Took Its First Steps in My Hand: Turtle Conservation in Central America

by Kaitlin Harlow

I started this Central American leg of my gap year in Guatemala, where women trod on dirt paths in heavy, woven, traditional Maya skirts; corrupt guatemalteco politics is the most common topic of conversation; and you can buy a huge bag of pastries from a number of run down panaderias for less than a dollar.

Last week I left Guatemala for Costa Rica, and at first it was like coming back to the U.S. San Jose is a big, western city– tall buildings, billboards in english, light skinned people in modern clothes. Also, everything is a lot more expensive! I passed through many regions of the country on my way to the West Coast, and though the scenes outside my bus windows were full of classic central american greenery, the atmosphere of Costa Rica is palpably different from good old Guatemala.

These initial impressions of a western, tourist central […]

Tired and Inspired: Global Gap Year Orientation

The 6 other 2014-2015 Global Gap Year Fellows and I just spent a packed weekend at the UNC Campus Y, where we jumped head-first into the alarming but exciting sea of planning that is preparation for our years of service abroad. In addition to getting to know each other and our hosts, attending a concert of the famed Mipso Trio, and feasting on Panera, Moe’s, and some awesome Thai catering, we skyped with fellows who are currently abroad and took in the wisdom of the ones who are currently at UNC. We also tried to absorb as many travel tips as possible– it’s a big world out there, and so are the binders of information that Jakelin guided us through!

Certainly one of the best parts of orientation was meeting my fellow fellows, past and current. The prevalent feeling of the weekend was this sense of wonder and good fortune […]

By |April 21st, 2014|Pre-departure|