Thursday, April 14, 2011

Why I'm taking this path

      It has finally started to hit home just how much everything will change. Beginning in just 32 days, we will walk across that stage, out of this chapter of our lives, and into the next. As my friends make difficult decisions regarding their next 4 years, I have been busy preparing to leave home and spend 5 months in Africa. I'm riddled with emotions. Anticipation. Anxiety. Nostalgia. Senioritis. And love. Love for Central; my home for the last 7 years. For the friends I've made while there. For the teachers who have shaped the person I am today. For the person I have seen myself become. And excitement for the journey I am about to embark upon.
     Many people have asked me why I chose to do a gap year; why I am not simply beginning my college career in the fall. So here it is: at some point in the last year I realized something. I had an opportunity that would never show its face again. Not to say that college is not important, but college will wait for me. The chance to live in Tanzania for 5 months, spending a large part of that time doing what I can to help others, came about through a series of random events. I'm never one to question good fortune, and I plan to grab that opportunity.
“Life is an exciting business, and most exciting when it is lived for others.”

      Another factor in my decision was simply that I need a break. I have been at the same school for 7 years, and while I can't imagine a better middle/high school experience for myself, 
 I need time away from school. Choosing a college is a huge, life shaping decision. One that I do not feel capable of making right now. I believe that to make the correct decision I need to be less influenced by the person I have been, and focus on who I want to become. During this next year I will spend large amounts of time doing two of the things I love most. Experiencing Africa and scuba diving. I am hoping that these experiences will help me realize what path I want my college experience to take: be it related to marine biology, marine archeology or to African studies and some form of Non-governmental organization. 
     So now I find myself, 50 days from departing Springfield, on the verge of this quest to find myself and hopefully impact the world on whatever size scale I can. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

What I’ll actually be up to next year

At a college fair on Friday, I got the look from a college rep when I mentioned that I was not going to college next year and would be applying in November. He quickly did a 180 upon hearing what I would be doing and showed me some pretty nice scholarships that I could qualify for because of the focus of my gap year, but how easily he jumped to a conclusion about my plans bugged me. Besides, I know some pretty incredible individuals who decided to pass on college in order to chase their dreams. Anyway, I thought I would make a timeline of sorts for my gap year. 

  • I leave Springfield on June 3rd (two months away!) and arrive in Arusha, Tanzania on June 5th. I begin my intensive Swahili course on June 6th, and will finish on June 24th. After a week off, I will begin my course in Empowerment on July 4th and finish on July 15th
  • On July 17th I begin my climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and will spend the next 7 days hiking the Machame Route to the summit of the 19,341 foot mountain. I will then travel to the island of Zanzibar off the coast of Tanzania with the same group for 4 days working on a service project.   (A view of Kilimanjaro from the distance) (14,000 feet above sea level)
  • Following this, I will begin my work with Daudi and Kellen Msseemmaa and their Empowered Girls' Club. We will be traveling to a few rural villages in Tanzania where I will likely be teaching English and giving talks on empowerment. Check out all they have done so far on their blog! 
  • I will be returning home on November 2nd and will be home until early January. 
  • On January 8th I will begin my Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician training in Midpines, CA, concluding on February 3rd. 
  • The month of February is still a bit of an unknown…so I’ll post more on that when I decide what to do!
  • During March, April and the early part of May (until my sister's college graduation) I am planning on living in Honduras and obtaining my dive master, instructor and possibly my Master Scuba Diver Trainer certifications through  Honduras is one of the few places where it is possible to dive with Whale Sharks, just another benefit!
  • And then I will go home for a few weeks in May, possibly work at a dive camp over the summer and then head off to college in the fall of 2012!
There you have it!