Hometown: Cornus, MD

Major: Environmental Studies/ Political Science

Minor: French

Gap Year Description:

I spent three months in Léognan, France, just outside of Bordeaux, as an intern at a vineyard learning all aspects of the wine business and living with a French family. I then spent two months teaching at a school for underprivileged children outside of Lusaka, Zambia, where I helped with English, nutrition, and computer classes, homework, and physical education. I then spent three months backpacking and touring in southeast Asia and New Zealand, and finally ended up working on a cattle ranch in Chilean Patagonia with my older brother.

How it influenced your time at Middlebury:

The cultural and social experiences were mind-expanding at the time, and continue to be invaluable for me in my daily life at Middlebury. I thought I understood what poverty meant in the third world, but the reality really clicked when I saw the natives’ daily routines in places like Zambian basic schools, Vietnamese orphanages, and Patagonian farm communities. Because I had to, I learned how to respond to real-world situations that arose when I was on my own away from the comfort of all things familiar. I gained a new confidence in my ability to handle new situations, and I learned that I can, and it is important to, make a difference in the world, no matter how small. I forged lasting relationships with people all around the globe – in fact, I returned to the same school in Lusaka this past summer to do more teaching! Back home, my year has helped me to fully understand and appreciate all of the opportunities that come with being a student in the United States and, more specifically, at Middlebury. Pushing my limits and getting out of my comfort zone can lead to amazing classes, clubs, activities, and friendships. I may not have experienced an "epiphany" about my future career path, but I have gained the skills that will lead me there. I guess if you are reading this, your question is "why would I take a gap year?" My question to you is "why would you not?"