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My Gap Year Story: I Got To Travel The World

Daisy Shepherd is from Seattle, Washington and graduated from high school in 2017. She will be attending Bryn Mawr College in the fall of 2018.

Q: What did you do for your gap year?

Daisy: From September through December, I traveled around Northern India with nine students and two overseas educators through Carpe Diem Education. We stayed with local communities getting to know people and exploring places that tourists don’t generally visit. We also volunteered in each place, including working with Tibetan refugees in Dharamshala and disabled children in Kolkata. From January through May, I taught English in Luang Prabang, Laos through Global Vision International. I taught five classes, including one with novice monks and and one focused on sewing.

Q: How did you find the opportunity?

Daisy: Honestly, I assumed I’d take a gap year because my mom did an AFS program her junior year of high school, and my dad studied in Japan. I found Carpe Diem at a gap year fair during my sophomore year. I wanted to volunteer, and I didn’t want to go to Europe. Initially, I was going to do a full year in India, but I fell in love with the Laos program, which I found through AFS.

Q: How did you fund your living expenses for the year?

Daisy: My parents and grandparents pitched in to pay for my programs. For day-to-day living costs, I worked over the summer and saved up. There are programs without fees; a friend did a similar internship in Peru with no program fees.

Q: How have you grown from your gap year experience?

Daisy: I’ve gained that feeling of being part of a global community. When we hear things are happening in faraway places, we’re both connected and disconnected because we hear them through a media lens. Once you’ve put yourself in a place–you’ve put your body there and met the people there–it’s hard to feel desensitized. Anytime I hear about things happening abroad, I think I could have been there. I can share in the joy of a new government or the tragedy of a natural disaster.

This fall, I’ll be going to school at Bryn Mawr College, a woman’s liberal arts school in Pennsylvania. I’ll be double majoring in international studies and linguistics.

Q: What advice would you give to other students considering a gap year?

Daisy: Do your research. Think about how you want to shape your values and what you want to focus on in your life. This is the first year you get to choose what you do for yourself. For parents: show options and help with the process, but let the student ultimately decide. My mom would have loved if I did an art history experience in Paris, but she was excited for me to make my own decision.