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Changing Lives Through Sustainability

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Changing Lives Through Sustainability

Allistair Landon embarked on a gap year program in India. Here is his story. Taking a gap year in his own words: Allistair Landon

Why did you decide to participate in a gap year program?

I was interested in a career in international development and I wanted to use my gap year to volunteer in the field. I also wanted the opportunity to travel and experience different cultures. Traveling on a gap year with Raleigh International seemed perfect for me.

How did you research gap year programs and decide on which one to do?

My aunt had previously volunteered on a Raleigh International expedition, but I also did my own research online. Raleigh International is a sustainable development charity. Their programmes focus on providing access to safe water and sanitation. I started reading their blog. I could tell that their volunteers were truly making an impact.

I also liked the fact that Raleigh International offers three different expedition phases; community, environment, and adventure as part of their programmes. Not only can you participate in community and environmental projects, but there is also an adventure travel phase, too, that really appealed to me.

What did you do on your gap year?

I volunteered on a ten-week expedition to India. Whilst there, I took part in all three of the expedition phases. The community project was my favourite. We lived and worked alongside a rural community in southern India. Our team helped construct bio-gas units to provide the village with sustainable cooking gas. A few homes already had bio-gas units that were being used regularly, so I knew that the sustainable development project was working. I felt proud to contribute to something that the village wanted and needed.

I enjoyed my first expedition so much that I decided to do another expedition in Borneo. With my previous experience as a Raleigh International volunteer, I was able to become one of their Volunteer Logistics Coordinators. Each logistics team is responsible for ensuring that we have the necessary supplies and equipment to carry out the projects.

What was the most memorable part of your gap year?

The most memorable part was definitely the opening ceremony unveiling the new gravity fed water system in the village of Kg. Sungai Magandai in Borneo. It is an extremely remote community that is seven hours from the nearest main road. It was very emotional to see how excited the entire community and all of the school children were about the new water system.

How has it shaped your future goals/plans after college? Do you plan to major in this field?

Although I’m still not sure what I want to be when I grow up, taking this course has made me realize that I do enjoy the artistic side of technology quite a lot. I’m not sure if I will major in modeling and animation, but after enrolling in this course, I will definitely consider it.

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Sophie Borden graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with degrees in Environmental Studies, Spanish, and Writing. She is a Marketing Associate at TeenLife and lives in Boston. She loves traveling, cooking, and dogs, especially her little rescue pup, Lily.

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