I want to spend my gap year expanding my horizons both physically and intellectually. I believe the best way to learn is by experiencing different cultures and communities. At the beginning of the year, I plan to travel broadly. Starting in October, I plan to participate in an 8-month program called Israel Experience at Bar Ilan University in Tel Aviv, Israel.
My first adventures were to visit the 49th and 50th states. For the summer I decided to be a counselor on a travel program for 10th graders. The teen tour began in July, and we first traveled to California. There we went to Yosemite National Park where we hiked and saw the grand sequoia trees. Next, we traveled to Alaska. Hiking on glaciers, wearing cramp-ons, white water rafting in Grade 3 rapids and experiencing white nights were some of the highlights. After Alaska we traveled to Hawaii. There, I went scuba diving for the first time, swam with sharks and hiked a volcano. Along the way, I tried to experience as much of the local culture as possible -including finding the best fresh poke food trucks in Hawaii’s north shore and trying the food at each of them. I consciously tried to disconnect as much as possible, be present, hang with the locals and appreciate the natural beauty of the places I visited.
As much as I loved seeing new places and meeting people who live so differently from me, it was also truly gratifying being viewed as a mentor to the teen campers. I got to offer advice, provide a shoulder to lean on and become friends with kids who are only a few years younger than me. It was incredible to be part of an experience where we started as separate individuals who didn’t know each other and transform, in only a few short weeks, into a tight-knit community who shared a common bond that we will share forever.