As the end of the school year—and long-awaited graduations— draws near, high school seniors like myself have the future on their minds. Most are occupied with thoughts of college, dorm life, and next year’s classes. I, however, have decided to take an alternate route this coming fall. After graduating, I am deferring my admission from Williams College for one year to participate in Thinking Beyond Borders—an international gap year program.
Along with fifteen other gap year students who have applied and been accepted to the program, I will be travelling the globe for eight months, learning about social issues, discovering other cultures, and becoming more aware of the world around me. With Thinking Beyond Borders, I will travel to Cambodia, Costa Rica, and Peru; study environmental conservation in Ecuador, sustainable agriculture in India, public education in China, as well as public health and the AIDS epidemic in South Africa. I will accomplish this through service learning projects, homestays with families, work with grassroots organizations, seminars, and discussions. On my return to the United States, I will then a compose a presentation of my experience to share with various educational and philanthropic groups while spending time in Washington D.C. and New York City, meeting with representatives from organizations such as the UN and the World Bank. This, hopefully, will allow me to comprehend the greater scheme of things around me—to understand the economic and political issues that are hindering parts of our world from developing and causing so much conflict and despair.
I believe that this opportunity will prepare me for college and every other experience that lies ahead of me like nothing else could. Having the chance to help the world and its people, while at the same time discovering what truly interests me, is simply invaluable. As a result of my year abroad, I will become a more alert, more aware citizen of the world.
So far, I have obtained $20,000 for this program through scholarship funds, but I need to raise an additional $20,000 in order to participate. However you can help—donations, travel tips and advice, positive thoughts, or a referral to anyone you think may be interested in assisting—would be tremendously appreciated. Thinking Beyond Borders is a non-profit organization, and all donations are tax-deductable. Keep in mind that any investment you make will contribute to an experience that will change not only my life, but the lives of others as well.