A gap year

After a long hiatus, I'm back again to update on some current, exciting things going on :)

A Gap Year. After long, stressful nights, hours spent on college applications and crying (happy and sad) tears over acceptance and rejection letters, I made the decision to take a "year on." I say a "year on" because I recently watched a TedTalk that delved into the pros of taking a gap year. The speaker explained the new concept of taking a year on, not off. Long story short, the phrase stuck with me, because I had never liked when people chose to say "I'm taking a year off." A year off of what? 

Many people will assume that a gap year means you simply aren't going to college, or that you have no idea what the hell you're doing. Others will nod and throw a half-hearted "Oh nice!" out when you answer the classic "Where are you going to college?" question. Some will look at you like you're crazy. However, so many others will be interested in your journey; in your choice to spend a year exploring, learning, and growing in immeasurable ways as a human being. Some people will tell you you're brave or courageous or adventurous, but honestly the way I look at is - if not now, when? College can wait - traveling the world really can't. I knew when I arrived home from Malawi, that I had officially caught the travel bug. I ached to go back, to go adventure somewhere new and unexplored. I wanted to learn about different cultures from my own, meet people who lived so differently from myself, and learn as much as possible. I came home with a completely new and adjusted mindset. I had learned more than I ever had through classes I've taken, books I've read, or tests I've taken. I learned more about myself than ever before, and I will forever be grateful for what my trip gave back to me, as an individual.

Since my travel bug never seemed to wear off, from January to June of 2019 I will be traveling with Up With People, an organization who's goal is to empower young people to be positive agents of change for a more hopeful, trusting and peaceful world - through music and action. I will live with host families in each country I visit, learning and experiencing their communities and cultures from a firsthand perspective. Throughout my six month journey I will complete community service projects, and perform for these communities each week. The money raised from ticket sales will go directly to chosen causes in each community. Up With People's mission is to:

  1. "Increase understanding, respect and dignity for all – We seek to overcome bigotry and break down barriers of culture, race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, gender, sexual orientation and economic disparity by using the power of music, education and service.

  2. Foster engaged communities – We collaborate with each community we visit, working together to address local issues and form community connections that enhance compassion and trust.

  3. Empower youth as positive change agents – We strive to help youth throughout the world become more aware of global and local issues, realize their individual capacity and inspire them to take personal action to make positive change.

  4. Build an international network of global citizens – Wherever we travel or our music is heard, we seek to encourage and connect those who yearn for a more peaceful world, respect cultural differences, and act to build trust." ( Up With People )

My decision to take a gap year has already been one of the best decisions I've made, and I am beyond excited to see where it will take me. 

xx, anna

"Taking a year on, not off: Jean Fan at TEDxBergen" https://youtu.be/bTzViNACCt4 

Up With People upwithpeople.org