Why did you choose to participate in a gap year program?
I didn’t quite feel ready for college right after high school. I wanted to take a year to travel, volunteer, and learn more about who I am as a person before starting the next four-year chapter of my life.
How did you decide that the WorldStamp Gap Year Program was right for you?
I knew it was right for me from the moment I heard about it. It had everything I was looking for. I wanted to spend enough time in a country to absorb its culture and form relationships, however, I also wanted to travel to new places. Three months in three different countries seemed perfect. I also wanted to dedicate my gap year year to service work and WorldStamp was the perfect opportunity for that.
What was a typical day like in your gap year experience?
My typical day changed from country to country. But overall, my days started with some form of exercise with the other volunteers: mostly yoga, acro-yoga (which combines yoga and acrobatics), and running. Afterwards, I would enjoy breakfast with my host family or the other volunteers. Then my favorite part of the day: our service projects. The mid-morning to early afternoon was spent volunteering in the schools. We spent this time being productive and working one-on-one with students but we always saved some time for games or arts-and-crafts. Then I would return home for lunch with my host family or the other volunteers.
Our evenings always included a fun activity. Sometimes we had a planned cultural activity, like cooking a traditional meal, and other times we just enjoyed some free time with the community members playing different games and sports. In Guatemala, we spent the afternoons taking Spanish lessons, which helped us all so much to form deeper relationships with our host families and our friends in the community. At night, I would have dinner and chat with my host family or the other volunteers. I always fell asleep early so I could wake up in time for yoga or a quick run the next morning.
What was the most memorable moment of your gap year?
My most memorable moment was probably the night we camped in the Himalayas! I felt so accomplished when we made it to the top of Triund Trek. It was a long day of hiking but I loved every minute of it and it was definitely worth it when we made it to the top. I saw more stars that night than I had ever seen in my life. I can still see them in my mind. Before crawling into our tents that night, we made a campfire. Something about the energy of that night has stuck with me even a year later. I never thought I would have the opportunity to be in the Himalayas but WorldStamp gave me this incredible moment that I’ll never forget.
What advice do you have for teens looking at gap year options?
I would advise teens to really consider a program that will push them out of their comfort zones. WorldStamp pushed me out of my comfort zone on multiple occasions. I was and still am so grateful for that because I grew so much from it. Being outside of my comfort zone not only expanded my comfort zone but also helped me discover a lot about myself. It made me the person I am today. Finding a program that facilitates self-discovery is so important because a gap year is the perfect time to do it. WorldStamp also gave me some of the most incredible adventures that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Seeing the Taj Mahal, camping in the Himalayas, hiking volcanoes, swimming in caves, and zip lining through Costa Rican cloud forests aren’t opportunities that present themselves often. So, to teens looking to take a gap year, look for opportunities of growth, learning, and adventure.