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The Power of a Bike

By Matthew 
How do you get around without a car when nothing is nearby? That is a problem I had to face with four of my friends in a small town in the southwest corner of Costa Rica. The only guaranteed ride was to and from work, and buses definitely did not come on the hour and half hour like in my hometown. So typically, we walked. If you were lucky you could hop in a friendly (looking) passing car with a raised thumb and your best smile, but those came few and far between. We would take afternoon trips to the store or full day trips to town if we had aspirations of purchasing rare and exotic items such as cheese (which was a key ingredient in my rice bean and cheese dish served twice per day on average). This wasn’t really a problem until one day our boss took us on a drive up the coast and pointed out all these super cool places we could explore and a truckload of new things to do. Now I’m super active and absolutely not afraid of a good walk or long jog, but it quickly became obvious there was no way I was going to be able to come close to fully taking advantage of this beautiful place.
Pilon is a Costa Rican fishing village with a population of 175 people, with not a single paved road in any of the surrounding towns. I am currently about half way through my stay, working with new friends  to orchestrate a move of an acquaintance’s property, using shipping containers as short term storage while also doing renovations on two different properties in town. In our free time we would explore the jungle covered mountains and beautiful coast in the surrounding areas, surfing on one of the best surf breaks in the world and finally playing stick rock and rock bocce, some of the more barbaric games ever invented on random beaches between towns.  The last thing that made it out of the old house but not quite into the shipping containers were two rusted bikes with flat tires that we took back to our home. These bikes would be dismissed as useless hunks of metal in almost any normal garage, but to me they were beautiful stallions that had the potential to give me access to boundless adventure, exploration, and more cheese.
We spent the day after our road trip fixing up the ancient bikes and before long, I was off.  I have been biking and exploring something new about this incredible country almost every day.  We’ve been cliff jumping, hiking along rivers, scouting wildlife in the mountains and finding new beach spots.  I have been doing it all and making the most of this beautiful place I am living in because of my access to wheels. The bike has also served as an escape, as it allows me to get out of the “house” ( one bedroom, one bath, with outdoor seating and kitchen) which gets pretty crowded and overwhelming with four other boys.  The rides themselves were fun in their own right, but they offered a chance to think and reflect on life while taking focus off sweating buckets on a dirt road to anywhere. I have learned much about myself through journey to new destinations via my bike.  Thinking about where I am and where I’m going is utterly fascinating given the crazy year we’ve all had.  While the bike initially provided a means to scout move waves and buy more cheese, it ended up giving me time and space to explore my thoughts.  
The unusual year off school is quickly coming to a close and I’m starting to realize how uniquely I’ve grown by taking this alternate route to Duke.  I am as excited as I was a year ago, but now I’m a little more informed and the most basic broken down bike has helped facilitate my journey.  

Greetings from France!

By Sofia


I think the best place to start this post is a summary of the last two months. On February 25th, I made the long flight from San Francisco to Toulouse, France. Though I was undeniably nervous about the trip, I’m becoming more and more used to picking up my life every 3-4 months and completely changing scenery. I really only lost it saying goodbye to my puppy (my family never sends enough photos of him), and I think that’s a fair concession.


Life here in Toulouse is great. I’m going to make a bit of a bizarre admission: I came to France thinking I hated language classes, just hoping I could suffer through them and still enjoy this incredible country. That is no longer the case! I am LOVING learning French. There has been a tangible progression of my skills, and I can literally feel my brain rewiring to start thinking in French.

Most days consist of me going to my French language class from 9:15 to 1, and then grabbing lunch with friends or going on a walk! With numerous COVID restrictions in place, almost every day ends up with me in one of the gorgeous parks here in the city. I’m very much an outdoors person, if you couldn’t tell by my 7 week backpacking trip, so getting to be among trees and flowers feels like a daily recharge. Honestly, there’s magic to living anonymously in a foreign city—it’s even picturesque when I run out to grab groceries.

Going on these adventures during COVID has made me increasingly aware of my responsibility to society—not in a global, philanthropic sense, but in a safety precautions/not spread COVID sense. I recognize the privilege of being able to travel right now, and to the best of my abilities try to make sure that I’m taking the necessary precautions to ensure my safety and the safety of those around me.

Unfortunately, because of this very point, my time in France is being cut short. As if it weren’t already obvious, the theme of my gap year is “adapt on the fly.” Since Easter weekend, France has increased its COVID restrictions as the healthcare system is overwhelmed by a third wave. I will be leaving France sooner than expected and continuing my gap year plans in Spain; taking MORE language classes, visiting my family and enjoying a chance to reconnect with my culture! Its a bittersweet end to an incredible time in France.

Transforming Distant Issues Through Personal Encounters

By Sami

I recently read an interesting article by Courtney Martin titled “The Reductive Seduction of Other People’s Problems,” and one of the main messages I was left with is that foreign problems often seem much simpler and more solvable than they really are. After spending over seven months in Israel I can confidently say this couldn’t be more true. Issues surrounding the Israel-Palestine conflict, Jewish society, religious tensions, and much more that I wasn’t even aware of before arriving here have forced me into a personal crisis. I quickly realized after arriving, to my dismay, that the conflicts I came here to better understand would only become more confusing and distressing as time would go by and as I would have more personal close encounters with the people who are most affected.

Last Tuesday at seven in the morning I arrived at the Western Wall in Jerusalem with a group of friends from my program. I wasn’t there for a regular tourist visit, though, nor for anything particularly spiritual. Rather, I came in order to support my friends praying with the Women of the Wall, a multi-denominational organization that strives to achieve the right for women to pray freely at Judaism’s most sacred sight. As of now, women are not legally allowed to read from the Torah or wear prayer shawls at the Wall, and attempts to do so have been met with violence from both the police as well as the ultra-orthodox and orthodox communities. Throughout our two hours there myself and a few other men, who supported the cause by singing prayers from outside the women’s section and by being an extra barrier between the ultra-orthodox counter protestors and the women attempting to pray, were harassed, yelled at, pushed, spat on, and called traitors, and I can only imagine how much worse it was within the women’s section. Ultimately, the confrontation was incredibly disturbing but eye-opening. Having children as young as eight or nine screeching in our ears while religious men in their 70s or 80s cheered them on while calling us Nazis certainly allowed me to experience issues surrounding religious pluralism in an entirely new way.

Two of my friends pictured here wore tefillin, a set of small black leather boxes containing scrolls inscribed with verses from the Torah. Observant Jews wear Tefillin during morning prayers, but the Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox communities strongly oppose the wearing of Tefillin by women.

Although I was infuriated by what I saw, I tried my best when reflecting on that day to understand what happened from different perspectives. Throughout this whole year one topic of interest that I’ve been exploring is moral subjectivity, so I’ve tried my best to not immediately reject different communities’ varying moral codes. With that in mind, I left with the impression that the fundamental moral principles under which the people yelling at us live simply don’t align with those of myself or most of the people I know in my more secular, liberal, and Western world. My worldview largely revolves around individuality and thus I place a lot of importance on civil rights, diversity, and fairness. I’m sure these counter protestors don’t hate the idea of fairness and individual rights, but it seemed to me like their moral foundations are based more in ideas of sanctity, authority, and loyalty. When one of my friends said something along the lines of, “just because we don’t agree on each other’s way of being religious it doesn’t mean we should fight to control each other,” a guard who was meant to protect us yelled at him that he was no Jew but a Nazi. Of course, I recognize that in the heat of a protest it’s hard to do anything other than yell at the other side, but still, how could I create effective dialogue with these people when we, to a large extent, speak from completely different moral planes?

My friend Rebecca carries a Torah that was snuck into the Western Wall Plaza by Gilad Kariv, in the gray suit, who is the first Reform Rabbi to serve in the Knesset.

Maybe it takes more than logic to convince one another. Maybe instead of throwing facts around, I’d need to tell stories and express the importance of different narratives. I’d need to successfully put across as a tangible, relatable thing the foundations of what I believe in, because if we don’t agree on those foundations then what difference does it make if my friend says she feels oppressed by the religious authority or if the ultra-orthodox claim the Torah says only men can wear tefillin.

During my gap year I have found many more new questions than answers and that’s certainly been frustrating at times. But when I signed up to come here, I believed I was ready to challenge myself and to question what I believe in. The frustration that I’ve felt throwing myself into situations like these at the Western Wall has been one of the most challenging parts of my year, but, at the same time, it’s been the most rewarding part as well.




Hello from Jerusalem!

By Abby

Since I haven’t been the most diligent about writing my blogs, I thought reflecting on my mechinah’s middle of the year seminar, designed to reflect on individual and group growth, would be appropriate. I was pleasantly surprised to realize that I didn’t quite need the time to ponder my own journey because I journal – literally dedicating 20ish minutes every night to reflecting – and because I’ve discovered I’m naturally a reflective person – sometimes to a level where I wish I could stop feeling all my emotions because it is exhausting. Instead, I mused on the group community we have created. We essentially live in a commune; everyone has shifts for cooking and cleaning and is part of a committee pertaining to a certain aspect of our experience (community service, learning, logistics, shabbat, and group.) My reality here is enormously different than my old reality of sitting through a whole day of school and extracurriculars and coming home to a clean house  with dinner waiting on the table. Sometimes, I am lazy, and I don’t want to plan, cook, or clean – especially clean – anything. The sentiment of “somebody else will do it” occasionally, or perhaps more than occasionally, percolates through my brain. But then what if everyone has the same reaction? During one seminar session, we discussed our favorite quotes/themes from classes so far, and one quote really stuck with me: הפראייר האמיתי הוא הבן אדם שמפחד להיות פראייר“ ” meaning “the real freier (Hebrew slang term for a sucker/a chump/someone taken advantage of) is the person who is too scared to be a freier.” I understand this to mean that putting in more than you are likely to “get” is much more fulfilling than refusing to put in anything because giving part of yourself is part of the “getting.”
As a member of the group committee, my responsibility is to help plan our weekly שיחת קבוצה (group conversation). This forum is the food and water that enables the group to exist and grow. Our conversations consist of a 15 minute discussion on practical issues – often cleaning – and then we transition into some sort of activity or question that everyone participates in or answers. I’ve learned that group responsibility is not just a practical sentiment but also an emotional one; our group wouldn’t exist if not for communication, and I have improved tremendously on this front. I wouldn’t say I used to put up walls around myself but more that I never ventured out of my dotted line enclosed comfort zone. I wasn’t scared of opening up, I just always thought I could handle my own feelings, and I rarely spoke up if something was bothering me out of fear of being perceived as brash.
However, during our middle of the year seminar, many friends complimented me on how comfortable I was sharing my feelings during our many group-conversation-like sessions. And, during our “thinking time” sessions, I reflected on how beautiful it is that I have a group to which I can give so much of myself practically and emotionally.

Sustainability in New Hampshire

By Sara

Greetings from Marlborough, New Hampshire! The last time you heard from me, I was about to leave South Carolina on a multi-day road trip up north headed for Camp Glen Brook. Now, I am already more than halfway through the program, and I can’t believe how fast the weeks have flown by. Before I arrived, eleven weeks seemed like an incredible amount of time to spend away from home; definitely the longest period away in my life thus far. However, the remaining month and handful of days now seem like an insignificant amount of time that is rapidly approaching, whether I’d like it to or not. My experience at Glen Brook, although not yet complete, has been one of the most transformative and engaging periods of my life.


When we first arrived in February, each of the nine “gappers,” as we are called, had been quarantining at home for two weeks, and it took another ten days of masking up before we were able to enter the Glen Brook Bubble, a group of individuals who live on the property together and have taken specific and strict measures to keep everyone safe. Week one was our first intensive: Orientation. This involved giving up our phones when we arrived, not to get them back until the end of the first week. We also spent this first week getting to know one another, the land, and the daily ins and outs of living at Glen Brook. We learned to build fires, care for the dozens of chickens that reside here, use a wood stove, split wood, chop down a tree, and more. Again, it seems so long ago that we were first learning all these things. For the next two weeks, a period entitled Foundations, we continued building on those habits and daily activities that make life here at Glen Brook just that: Life. We attended Food Studies classes, carved wooden spoons with their bowls coal-burned into them, and we began some of our continuous classes. These include more cerebral classes, such as Society, Self, and Ecophilosophy.

Our fourth week here at Glen Brook was our second intensive and my favorite thus far: Orienteering. By the beginning of the week, we had packed up all our belongings into our suitcases once more in preparation of moving from the main house into the Hill House, our own home for the next month or so. All of this, minus what we had packed into our backpacks for the week, went into the parlor to wait patiently for us to return. On Monday morning, we moved down to a canvas tent by the lake, where we set up camp. Then, the real intensive began. Day one was an intro to orienteering: in groups of three, we used our compasses and maps of Glen Brook to navigate to three different coordinates and back to camp. On day two, we took it up a notch: we travelled to Pisgah State Park, the largest State Park in NH, where we split up into two groups, each trailed by one of our Gap Leaders, and had to navigate using our compasses and a topographic map of the area (no trails!) to two points in the park. Day three saw us in groups of three, this time without an escort, and we once more had to locate two points, the last of which was our meetup spot. The last day of orienteering was one of my favorites: the solo challenge.

Over the past two weeks, we’ve been taking electives in various subjects, including Land Conservation, Food Studies, Nature Writing, Hat Making, Bow Drills, and more! This past weekend was also our third intensive, a backpacking trip along the Monadnock Sunapee Greenway. Now that we’ve returned, our next two weeks will be full of manual work, since for our Deep Dive, we’re going to be starting on some new cabins for summer camp! After that, we’ll have two weeks of Apprenticeships (I’ll probably be choosing Farm, especially since we are getting piglets soon!), then a week-long canoeing trip, then a few more days to wrap up and off we go.

It seems so sudden to me that I can already see the end of my time here approaching. Although before I arrived, I was slightly concerned about whether I would feel excruciatingly homesick, the opposite has been true. Glen Brook has been an incredible experience with some of the best people I have ever known, and it will be a bittersweet day to say goodbye for now. I know, however, that Glen Brook has transformed me for the better, and the way I can pay back that debt is by going out into the world and spreading the message I have learned here: we are all persons of consequence, our human nature is wild, and by sustaining that which sustains us “we can learn to see our selves as made up of the world—and in turn see our role in making up the world.”

Full Circle 

By Hannah

On March 11, 2020, I walked the halls of my high school for what I would have never guessed to be the last time. My sister and I celebrated the phone call we received that night that we would have no school for the next few weeks. And I think you know how the story goes…

On March 12, 2021, I walked the halls of California Northstate University in Elk Grove, California. A location I would have truly never expected to find myself, and definitely never imagined to be excited to go to. I was spending the day volunteering at the College of Pharmacy’s vaccination clinic, guiding excited people from the door to their seats where they would eagerly await their vaccine. I spent the day talking to people and hearing numerous stories of where people were a year ago. The air in the room was light and hopeful, it felt like the whole room let out a sigh of relief.

As I sat down in one of those seats to get the vaccine myself, I reflected on how far I’d come since that day last March. Just one year had passed, yet my entire outlook on my life had flipped on its head. Exactly a year before I was thinking about missing my prom and graduation. Now, I couldn’t tell you the last time either of those things crossed my mind. They feel so small now as I look back on the last 12 months and see what significant losses we have faced as a world.

I mentioned in my previous blog that I was hoping to find ways to step up and give back to my community. In addition to volunteering at a couple of different vaccination clinics, I have joined the Serve the Moment Service Corps. Through this program I have been distributing food to those in need in my area, writing letters to express gratitude to the frontline workers who have shown extreme strength for the last year (see photos below), and working with The Ella Baker Center who works both locally and nationally to help Black, Brown, and Low-income communities shift resources from prisons and punishment-based systems to opportunities that make our communities safe, healthy, and strong.

I have found this time I’ve spent at home to be very rewarding. I am doing work I would never have done otherwise, getting exposure to new issues and ideas and learning more than I could have imagined. It is allowing me to give meaning to this incredibly challenging time.





Carpe Diem

By Valerie

It was all I could ever think about, the nasty culprit behind countless sleepless nights, a master puppeteer who toyed with my emotional strings, wearing me down till I went limp as a rag doll.

Childish. Immature. Melodramatic. Many derided my all-consuming obsession as such. But was it really? How could I stop worrying after the (outrageously) staggering amount of dollars and hours invested in standardised tests and college applications? How could I stop agonising after  the immaculate marketing apparatus of these institutions had utterly convinced me that the education they offered was what I wanted, nay, absolutely needed? How could I stop fretting when everyone appeared to take my admission as given and pulled no punches in asserting their confidence in my abilities?

Friday, March 27 2020, 0708 SGT.

After months of nerve-wracking anticipation (and an additional 8 minutes spent wallowing in the delusion that nothing was cast in stone till I relinquished my oblivion), I finally mustered the courage to open the portal. What ensued thereafter was an explosion of ecstasy that begs description.

Getting into Duke feels like a dream. But it has also been overwhelming. Once you start sporting the Duke cap, you are thrust onto a pedestal. You are showered with compliments that feel undeserved and misdirected and paint a shimmering persona you can only hope to live up to. You hear about the amazing feats achieved by students past and present and wonder if you have what it takes to fill the gigantic shoes they have left in their wake. For international students like myself, there is the daunting challenge of acclimating to college life without the comfort of the familiar; of making new friends without any common experiences to leverage as a starting point; of allowing our identities to be shaped and reshaped by a foreign culture without losing ourselves in the process.

The pandemic has hardly made things any easier. In the face of rapidly emerging and wildly circulating variants, travel restrictions that stretch indefinitely and familial pressures borne out of safety concerns, this heavenly dream constantly threatens to devolve into a hellish nightmare. As if it were not already challenging enough to adapt and thrive in Duke, study and living arrangements in the coming semester remain fraught with uncertainty. How am I going to get to campus safely without making my family worry? If I can’t, will online learning still be an option? How am I going to make friends remotely and attend live classes in a distant time zone? Whenever I get a taste of campus life through Instagram stories and virtual events, anticipation swells within me like a bubble, only to burst at the thought of missing out on all the fun in fall.

But hearing my own struggles with imposter syndrome, identity, uncertainty and loneliness echoed by other students during Duke Real Talk sessions has provided a good measure of solace and solidarity. Their stories have also driven home the reality that these sentiments will ebb and flow as I transition through different phases of college life, each with its own flavours of distress. I recall how desperately my younger self longed for the liberation that college life seemed to promise. I relive the euphoria that embraced me as I read that coveted acceptance letter, then bemoan how quickly it faded into the shadows of new concerns. There is no ailment more debilitating than chronic dissatisfaction– and I am starting to realise that the most powerful remedy comes from within.

Only I have the power to prevent myself from being swept up by the blustering whirlwind of ceaseless yearning and desire by remaining firmly grounded in the present moment. Adopting this deceptively simple mindset has been difficult, but it has certainly worked wonders. Who knew that taking morning strolls in the park, with the sweet scent of dewy grass still lingering heavily in the air, could dramatically uplift my mood for the rest of the day? Sometimes, I even stop by the beach to bury secret Korean messages in the sand and leave wondering if anyone will discover them before they are erased by the lapping waves. Stimulated by a surge of rekindled musical passion and the addictive satisfaction of mastering a challenging song, I have started playing the piano again and developed a new obsession with the ukulele (after numb fingertips and painful calluses suspended my love affair with the guitar). Every happy memory I make now is carefully preserved in daily gratitude stories on Instagram that remind me to savour all the little pleasures in my life before they slip away without warning.

As we welcome the newest members of the Class of 2025, getting into Duke a year ago still feels like a dream– and I want to keep it that way, to always remember how immensely blessed I am to be pursuing my aspirations in a supportive, collaborative and explorative environment, and be content with all that I already have.

Out on the Trail

By Leah

We’ve reached the height of the season for dog sledding trips, and are now going out on an overnight trip about once a week. Just yesterday we got back from a three-day trip–we spent two nights at our established winter campsite, with five of us staff members, five clients, and 20 dogs.

            A trip like this takes a lot of work. Preparation began a few days in advance, with me packing out all of the food we would need. The day after all of the food was organized, I went with one of my bosses to drag the food into our campsite by snowmobile and to move dog sleds to the trailhead.  That evening, our five clients arrived–we settled them into our guest lodge, outfitted them with all of the warm clothes they would need, and told them to be ready to go at 8:30 in the morning.

            The next day we fed the dogs at 6:30 in the morning, then all of us staff ate a quick breakfast together and got moving: backpacks and skis and snowshoes and ropes and all sorts of extra equipment and parts had to be loaded into the trucks, and then the dogs were loaded, and we were off, driving to the trailhead.

            Once we’re at the trailhead, the dogs stay in the truck until the last minute. They’re always ready and raring to go, so as soon as they’re hooked up to the sleds you have to leave right away or else they’ll get frustrated. But there’s plenty of stuff that has to happen before the dogs can get hooked up: our ski guide set off with two of the clients (they need an early start since they can’t move as fast as the dog team), and the lines on the dog sleds were all laid out and prepared, and the qomatik was loaded with anything that there wasn’t room for in the three sleds, and then the qomatik was attached to the snowmobile by a tow bar, and finally we started unloading dogs from the truck. We divided the 20 dogs into three teams: an eight-dog team and two six-dog teams, each with a staff member mushing and a client inside the sled. Me and my fellow apprentice took turns mushing the last team and driving the snowmobile, which follows behind the last dog team. And we set off, winding down our trail onto the lake, and then into a cove where our campsite is.

            The campsite has several canvas wall tents that we leave erected all winter. Each tent has a bough floor and a wood stove. As soon as we got to camp, half of us tied the dogs up in camp and  gave each one of them a bed of hay while the other half went out onto the lake with an ice chisel and a sled full of empty pots to collect water.

          Once the dogs were all watered and the sleds and qomatik unpacked, we ate lunch together out on the ice. After that there were chores to be done: finding firewood and bringing it back to camp, and cutting up meat for the dogs, and fetching and boiling more water as needed, and collecting boughs to add to the tents, and chopping wood, and keeping stoves running, and finally making dinner. After dinner we did the dishes, and then we went down onto the lake for my favorite part of every overnight trip: the campfire.

            In a normal year, guests and staff would all eat together in the largest tent (the cook tent), passing around food, telling stories, getting to know each other. But with COVID, we can’t all be in one tent together–we have to eat separately. So every night, we make a campfire out on the lake. That’s where storytelling and socializing happens this year.

            The wind blows jets of smoke and sparks, causing us to engage in a perpetual dance around the fire as its direction changes. On this night, the stars were the best I’ve seen them here–they reminded me of my trip to Big Bend this fall; they were almost as bright.

            Thanks to the nature of the service that we provide and our rigorous safety policies, we have been able to keep taking folks on these amazing trips, even while COVID is still an incredibly dangerous threat to many people, businesses, and communities. It’s a pleasure to get to spend time meeting new people after months of isolation, and it’s so much fun to watch them experience the wonder of the dogs and the outdoors, and incredibly rewarding to know that I helped facilitate that experience.

            I’ll be here for about two more months–I’m so excited to spend more time with the dogs, and with amazing people out on the trail.

How Skiing Made Me a Better Person

By Christina

This month I began work as a lift operator at a ski resort in Utah.  I maintain the ramps that you ski on to load or unload the lift; manage the buttons that start, stop, and control the speed of the lift; and bump chairs on fixed-grip lifts, meaning I hold back the chair to slow it down for you on lifts where the chair remains at full speed in the loading zone.  My job is simple.  My life is really simple.  When work ends, I stop thinking about it.  There is no homework or work outside of work.  My headspace is free on my off time.  On my days off, I ski, and all of my energy and thought goes towards existing presently in those moments.  I love my job and I love what my job enables me to do: ski.  I am simply and purely happy.  I worry that this happiness is situational and that when I go back to a higher-stress, faster-paced, more real-world environment I will revert back to a more stressed, closed-off, success-oriented version of myself.  My environment here has changed me: I am less anxious and stressed, I live entirely in the present, and I have built stronger foundations for friendships and hobbies than ever before by prioritizing them.  My goal for this winter is to keep identifying the ways that my environment has changed me and solidify these changes into who I am so I can keep being this better version of myself no matter my environment.  I am still figuring out how to accomplish this goal, but I think the answers are consciousness and habit.  If I’m aware of how I’m acting and changing, I am in control and can consciously make choices that are in line with who I want to be.  Making those positive choices over and over again will make acting on those traits and values habit, which will make those traits and values a part of me with time.  My current environment is one of a kind: my colleagues are ski bums, our work attire is Under Armor, we ski on work breaks and days off, and I have boots and a helmet in my backpack instead of books.  I am living my dream, but the best part is the change in myself I am seeing when I’m doing what I love all the time.  I hope that these positive changes will stick and remind me of this winter for the rest of my life.

New Paths

By Kayla

The start of the new year – it’s always a mix of excitement and apprehension. I’m looking forward to what the year will bring, and can’t wait to make the most of my gap year.

Recently, I’ve revisited old interests that I hadn’t pursued before. In my family’s storage, I found an old guitar that I had bought at a flea market years ago. I had never learned to play, so I decided to add “learning to play guitar” to my gap year checklist. My first step was to buy guitar picks, and the next steps I took were watching YouTube tutorials and reading chord diagrams. Creating music is especially interesting to me because of my dance background. Music is always a guarantee when I take ballet class or perform on a stage. I immediately think of choreography when I hear music, so playing the guitar pushes me to focus on creating the music instead of just interpreting it. It’s interesting to be on a different side of an art form, and I plan to experiment merging my music and dance together. I’m excited to continue learning guitar and explore as many art forms as I can.

I’ve also started going on bike rides again. It’s been years since I biked regularly, as I was busy with homework and ballet classes. Since I’ve been at home for a while now, biking is a great way for me to get fresh air. I’ve been working on increasing my distance each ride, while enjoying the breeze and the nature surrounding the trail. Biking allows me to exercise safely outside during the pandemic, and to reflect on everything that’s happening. With a few more months of biking, I’ll be all ready to bike around Durham!

Exploring different activities is helping me to broaden my horizons, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings!