It’s not the end—It’s only the beginning

The following post was written by Bridge Year Fellow Farah Heikal. Farah spent her Bridge Year in Lebanon.

I am not afraid nor ashamed to admit that before I began my Bridge Year, I was lost with no sense of direction. Sure, I was doing just fine in my academics, checking every box on the list of ways to be successful in college. From a superficial perspective, I seemed to be great as a second-year UNC student that had mastered the balance of work, life, and school. However, innately I was in a constant state of confusion. Confused with what direction I was really planning on taking in life, unsure about the “5-year plan” I had meticulously crafted years before, and certainly in doubt about the level of motivation I had left in me.

Drowning in class assignments and work obligations, I had never had the time to truly reflect on anything […]

By |April 16th, 2020|Re-entry, Reflections|

My Gap Year Taught Me to Think for Myself

by Gabriela Aleman

In mid-June, I finally touched down in Charlotte, North Carolina, exhausted from the red-eye flight, but surprisingly content. I walked through the familiar airport out to the arrivals line and walked into my mom’s outstretched arms. We squeezed each other tightly and then she held me out at arms-length, tucking a strand of loose hair behind my ear, and looked at me with watery eyes.

“I missed you!” She said, her voice thick with emotion. I laughed with relief and hugged her again.

“I missed you too, mom.”

And I had; I’d missed her more than I’d realized. As we drove back to our house, familiar landmarks popped out to me left and right. I felt safe, for some reason. My mother and I chatted simply until finally pulling into our garage. I ran into the house and scampered up the stairs, counter-balancing my heavy backpack, until I burst into […]

By |August 1st, 2015|Re-entry|

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|

Hoping for Best Results

-Anna Brodmerkel, 2014 GGYF Fellow
I don’t know.
I don’t know how to write this blog.
I don’t know how to accept the end of my gap year.
I don’t know how I can say everything I need to in this final blog.
I just don’t know.
But then again,
I didn’t really know anything about this time a year ago.
I didn’t know small and large the world could feel.
I didn’t know how tiny of a speck I was on this earth amongst all the other creatures.
I didn’t know about the endangered Loggerhead Turtle, and how people are more likely to want to save them if they can watch the hatchlings float out to sea.
I didn’t know what it felt like to do nothing and have an empty head.
I didn’t know how to travel, just to travel.
I didn’t know how to muster animals, or that it would be a handy skill I could apply to rowdy […]

Re-Entry and Permanence

-Anna Brodmerkel, 2014 GGYF Fellow
Home. I’ve been here for a month now, and time has flown by just as quickly as I imagined it would, which was exactly one of the reasons I dreaded coming home from Nicaragua, from my gap year. I knew I would spend all of July rushing around from place to place to see family and friends, and never actually be home. I didn’t dread seeing everyone-I’ve loved seeing everyone and keeping busy, just like every other summer. But it’s almost strange how similar this July felt compared to so many others, making my entire gap year feel like a dream.
Re-entry was not so easy this time. I’ve come back home, or at least to the USA, after every country, but this time I wasn’t jet setting off to another in a few days or weeks. Knowing I would begin to have real responsibilities and […]

Proof of an Angel

-Anna Brodmerkel, 2014 GGYF Fellow
“At forty-eight she has come to experience the solitude that her husband and son and daughter already know, and which they claim not to mind. ‘It’s not a big deal,’ her children tell her. ‘Everyone should live on their own at some point.’ But Ashima feels too old to learn such a skill… Now she does the laundry once a month. She no longer dusts, or notices dust, for that matter. She eats on the sofa, in front of the television, simple meals of buttered toast and dal… She works at the library to pass the time-she has been going regularly for years… and one day Mrs. Buxton, the head librarian, asked if she would be interested in a part-time position… Every three weekends her husband comes home… During his visits, Ashoke keeps his clothes in his suitcase, his shaving things in a bag by […]