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Can I Do This?

"Freedom lies in being bold"

-- Robert Frost

FALL 2015

Marion Taylor is currently volunteering in Tanzania and Rwanda with two different women's groups. Pat Moran will be handling all inquiries during Marion's gap experience between September 1-October 22. Read about Marion's experience from the perspective of an adult gapping at age 58!

As I prepare to return home after seven weeks of volunteering in Tanzania and Rwanda, I am reflecting on the advantages and benefits of age as a "gapper”.

As I embarked anxiously on this gap experience, I was fearful that I would not be able to muster up the "youthful resilience" necessary to cope with the variety of "African inconveniences”. I discovered on my very first night in the volunteer house in Moshi, Tanzania, what a long power outage was! That was followed by two days of no water for washing or showering. At first, I was mildly annoyed, but as the third day dawned with no water for my much "desired" shower, even a cold one at that point, I realized that this just might be a chronic issue - and not only in Tanzania. I drew from my Peace Corps experience and took a bucket shower. With gas, a bunsen burner, and a few minutes with available water, I was able to rinse, lather, rinse. What a relief and huge improvement in my mood. Donning my headlamp for washing of dishes and reading was also another way to cope. My resilience did re-emerge and I realized I could "manage". I also knew that these were short term hassles for me, whereas East Africans dealt with power and water problems daily.

As an older adult, I found that the women in English classes and in the three co-ops accepted me more readily. Credibility was gained with marriage, children, and ownership of my own business. I was harassed in towns far less due to my age and far more due to my skin color as a "muzungu". I was aware as an adult of really needing to feel safe, sheltered, and fed. Once the basic "maslow's hierarchy of needs" was met, I gained confidence in exploring and navigating around town - taking care of banking, marketing, dining out, and communication needs (wifi and internet resources). In Moshi, Tanzania, I cohabited with a challenging trio of burnt out and cynical volunteers. Had I been younger, I don't think I would have been as patient or tolerant, trying 24/7 to filter out the negative. In Gisenyi, Rwanda, I had to rely on myself as a solo volunteer in the women's empowerment program. Maturity helped in coping with loneliness and in resolving to pro-actively make the most of my valuable time here. I tried to learn both Kiswahili and Kinyarwanda greetings and basic words to get by - which was always appreciated by locals. At 58, I was less afraid about what people thought of me or how they might react to my efforts and inquiries for assistance. I found myself more tired (as an older adult) coping with the heat, the dirt, the dust, the mud, the headaches of local travel, and the different sense of time that are a part of daily life here. But I also knew how and what I needed to take care of myself (warmed bucket shower, good book, and fully loaded iPod) to improve my physical and mental health. I knew my limitations and boundaries. I took advantage of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities because I could afford them this time round, and I have learned that "stuff happens in life unexpectedly”. I snagged the last spot on a 3 game park safari, treated myself to a beach bungalow in Zanzibar, and indulged in a magical hour of observing the Rwandan mountain gorillas. My life skills, all 58 years worth, far out benefited any issues of being too old, too scared, and too lonely. I connected with the wonderful, amazing, resilient women of Tanzania and Rwanda, some living with HIV, some recovering from genocidal rape and domestic violence, and some earning income to choose alternative professions such as sex workers. I rekindled my passion and compassion for the empowerment of women at age 22 AND 58! So don't ask, "can I do this?” - ask, “WHEN?"

Seven questions you should ask before you volunteer abroad
By Rachel Banning-Lover
The Guardian
June 2, 2015

2016 Gap Year Presentation & Panel
January 30, 2016
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Kent Denver School
Englewood, CO
Open to interested students, parents, teachers & college counselors. Free of charge.

Gap Year Fair - Boulder
February 16, 2106
Peak to Peak Charter School

Lafayette, CO
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Gap Year Fair - Denver
February 17, 2016
Denver Academy
Denver, CO
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Check out the new video by Taylor The Gap. Also available on our home page.


Marion Taylor MSW
Founder and Owner
Taylor The Gap, LLC


F O L L O W on F A C E B O O K
L I N K E D i n P R O F I L E
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