Why did you choose to participate in a gap program?
I chose to participate in a Raleigh International Expedition for several reasons. I wanted to be part of a program that would help me to step outside of my comfort zone, develop connections with people, allow myself to see life from a different perspective, and to benefit others’ lives. I was eager to travel and I was enthusiastic about meeting new people!
I have grown up in a small town in the United States, with parents who have a very international outlook. At heart I think I’m quite adventurous and curious, so taking part in a program like this was exactly what I wanted to do. While it was incredibly nerve wracking at first, it was an amazing experience and I cannot wait to participate in more programs!
How did you decide which program was right for you?
I thought about participating in a program like Raleigh International for over a year before I committed to it. It was definitely a long but exciting process of thinking, researching, contacting people, reading blogs. My dad and my godmother participated in expeditions and had amazing things to say about it!
After spending hours on their website, I knew Raleigh was the perfect program for me. I had to fundraise for the trip (the money you fundraise goes straight to the communities in which you work), and I knew it was a safe, very organized, credited, youth-orientated organization.
What was a typical day in your gap program?
Everyday in the small Nepalese village I was living in, I would wake up at around 6am and go to work with my friends in my group. We dug two trenches each about 1 kilometer long throughout the community to distribute water and built tap stands so each household in the community had their own access to running water!
At 10am and 8pm my host family provided my roommate and I meals of the day, the Nepali national dish, Dhal Bhat. My group and I would work until 4pm or 5pm. Then my friends and I would play cards, hangout and play sports with the local children. The last week of the program, we went trekking in the foothills of the Himalayas and saw breathtaking views.
What was the most memorable moment of your program?
There were an infinite amount of memorable moments in my program, however, if I had to choose one it would be the friendships I made. The friendships you make are so real because you are all thrown into so many unknown situations.
Everyone is out of their comfort zone experiencing the same thing and everyone is looking to make friends! I am always talking to my friends from the UK through FaceTime calls, text, and social media apps. I have definitely made lasting and true friendships and I am extremely thankful for that.
What advice do you have for teens looking at gap programs?
My advice for teens looking at gap programs or Expeditions such as the one I did, would be to step outside of your comfort zone and do it! If you want to meet people, have new experiences, learn so much about yourself, other people, different countries and cultures, then participating in a gap program or an Expedition of some sort is simply life-changing.
Everything has its highs and lows, but despite the setbacks, it was so fulfilling and rewarding. I learned so much from this Expedition about myself -- things that I never knew I was capable of! You won’t know how amazing it is until you try.