"Experience is not what happens to you, but what you make of what happens to you"
-- Aldous Huxley
After conducting year-end evaluations with recently returned gap students, I asked a few to share a poignant memory from their experience for this summer issue. Read on!
Meg in Ecuador:
“When I think of my Ecuadorian host family, I think first of Gloria, the matriarch who maintained the family farm with such grace that she made hacking plantains off of trees and slashing cocoa plants look simple. As a strong woman, she rarely showed emotion and only gave affection by feeding me mounds of rice and empanadas. It was when this invincible woman burst into tears on my final day living in her home, that I realized how connected I felt to her too. We never really spoke, I only understood limited Spanish, and she wielded a machete while I am still uncomfortable around most kitchen knives! But nonetheless, we built a bond that still humbles me today.”
Brad in Baja:
"At first, you think nothing is quite like lifting your head from a soft beach sand bed and opening your eyes to a pink and orange wildfire slowly dancing across a cloud spotted sky. But then a few hours later, you smile as an egg yolk sun warms your tanned cheeks and a cool gale gently glides you across waves of the salty blue. And when you hang off the bowlines and take a moment to admire the contrast of a cactus littered desert mountain cliff bursting out of the dark navy sea, you don't think you'll ever see something so raw and amazing. You are convinced that you've had the best campfire of your life laughing and singing and gobbling hound fish ceviche and homemade guacamole as the sun dives into the ocean and a hemisphere of stars finally reveal their shine. But when you wake up the next day from a soft beach sand bed to a pink and orange wildfire slowly dancing across a cloud spotted sky, you know that somehow, this day will be even better than the last."
Lauren in Thailand:
"As I was wrapping up my senior year of high school, knee-deep in exams, and severely burned out, I couldn’t have possibly imagined that in a short four and a half months I’d be sitting in what I can only describe as a highly impressive tree house in Northern Thailand, having a picnic lunch of sticky rice and vegetable stew, listening to local village women singing a traditional Thai song in perfect harmony. But after developing a deep, genuine appreciation for a people and a culture so different from my own and sharing this sticky rice and song-filled afternoon among the treetops, I couldn’t have possibly imagined being anywhere else. I knew I had gone where I needed to go."
Audrey in Bolivia:
“Thanksgiving 2014 was wildly unique. There I was in Cochabamba, Bolivia, far from my father’s turkey carving and my grandmother’s pie in America. And yet, among a new community of friends, mentors, host families, and even strangers, I felt like I was in just the right place. The guests, hailing from all over the world, contributed their specialties- from Jewish noodle kugel to Bolivian cake, bridging their diverse backgrounds, families, and traditions into an emotional night. Through English and Spanish, laughter and tears, the spirit of togetherness and appreciation was palpable. This year, I truly came to understand and embody the meaning of Thanksgiving; to comprehend more deeply how fortunate one is to have a meal on the table, a roof overhead, and family and friends to cherish. The distinctly American holiday became imbued with new gravitas and a richly expanded constellation of loved ones, knowledge, and experience to be thankful for.”
Larkin in Indonesia: "The moments that have come to define my 'time between' were those in which human connection, biological majesty, and universality connected simultaneously within my heart and mind. These were moments of intense personal connection, deep and wild beauty, and overall a feeling of aliveness that could never have happened within an academic or familiar system. By taking time to rest and breath I was able to learn ways of life and the world that would have taken years to realize otherwise."
Alex in Cambodia:
"After spending a few days with two Cambodian friends in the scenic town of Kampot, they took me to see Rabbit Island. After taking a tuk tuk to the boat, a sort of kayak with a motor, we rode for about 20 minutes until I saw the outline of a few tiny little islands. As we approached, it looked like what I imagined paradise to be - white sand, palm trees, hammocks, and a couple of shacks. I lived out that paradise lying in the hammock under the shade all that beautiful March day in Cambodia."
SAVE THE DATE 2016 Gap Year Fair Presentation & Panel
January 30, 2016
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Kent Denver School
4000 E. Quincy, Englewood, CO
Open to interested students, parents, teachers & college counselors
Gap Year Fair Boulder
February 16, 2106
Peak to Peak Charter School
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Gap Year Fair Denver
February 17, 2016
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Note from Marion
I will be unavailable for gap year consultations from 9/4/15 to 10/21/15 as I will be volunteering in Moshi, Tanzania and Gisenyi, Rwanda. All inquiries during my absence will be handled by Pat Moran whose contact information will be available on my website starting September 1st. If you are interested in planning a gap semester or year for Spring 2016 or gap year for Fall/Spring 2016-17, please contact me for an appointment before July 30, 2015 or upon my return after October 25, 2015.