Friday, 24 February 2012

Gapper Reflection on the Impact of his Volunteering

I left costa rica at 930am. The bus ride was long and seemed to stretch for hours. It took about 2 hours to reach the border. After an hour to the border of costa rica, and another hour at the border to nicaragua I finally began my travels through nicaragua. It was overwhelming being back. Even after only being here a week, it was enough to make it feel like a second home. I had forgotten how truly beautiful nicaragua was, how welcoming and friendly the people are, and how it truly made me thankful for the opportunity to return so soon.

Upon my arrival we talked for hours about my experience between nicaragua and costa rica. I met her two dogs Quien and Rudo and the turtle who lives in her backyard. Bonnie is a saint, she moved to nicaragua and started bridges to community with a few others. She has never looked back. She's an inspiration to everyone. It felt so good to be back amongst companions who felt as I do towards the people of nicaragua.

This morning I awoke and went to see my sponsor family. They were overjoyed to see me. They said its rare for volunteers to come back and visit so they were truly grateful for both myself and what I'd done and coming back to see the final product. Julio, the father of the house is going to stop by bonnies tomorrow to talk and hang out.
In the afternoon adelia and I went to see the Ipica show. Its a horse parade. They march and dance their horses up the street to music it was really cool.
For dinner we went to grenada and ate at a fusion resturaunt, I'd remembered it from our experience in january. Then the power went out, yet again haha hurricane factor. So we played yahtzee in the dark haha it was lots of fun.

Today I got to work on a house, it was the starting with digging and cement foundations only worked about an hour by the time I got there, but it was fun none the less. I really enjoyed it. I got back in time to help mix cement as well as organize the piles of wood.
 I missed the crew so it was good to see them all. After I got back I had a few things to take care of and then my sponsor julio came by for a few hours and we exchanged words of home, as best we could. Taught each other different words and talked of the pronounciatin similarities in certain words.
Its my last night here and I'm really going to miss it. Its truly magnificent place. Full of life and hope. I was once again told that I was an angel sent by god, that left me speechless. I am unable to truly grasp
the depth of the emotion they must feel. To me it was fundraising for a family I wanted to help, no major task really, yet for them its life altering.

Nicaragua is never far from my mind. It truly changes the way you view reality and at the same time being here can bring you true happiness. Coming down to build a home and raise money had us regarded as angels, to this day they still prayer for us. Imagine having such a great impact on
the lives of a family that they are speechless in their gratitude and when words come out they make you speechless with pride.

I am going to miss it the second I leave :( I'm not looking forward to leaving.

Friday, 17 February 2012

mygapyear Client and Parent Testimonials

Interested in what our clients and the parents of our clients are saying about our services?  So are we!  We thought we would share some of their comments with you.

M.F. (mygapyear alumni)
Since we began I feel a lot more independent and capable of being self-sufficient.   I feel confident in my abilities to handle any new or difficult situations.  I also feel a lot more comfortable with myself which I think has affected the way I am treated by the people around me.  My parents say they have noticed a change for the better and think that I am becoming more of a responsible adult.
I think that my increase in confidence has made me a happier person in general.   I used to feel a lot more unsure of myself, which I believe prevented me from doing a lot of the things I wanted to do.  Now I feel like I am capable of reaching my goals.
I think that setting goals and working towards them was a really good approach to planning my gap year because it helped me get the most out of my year off.  It is also insightful to talk about my experience and what I gained from it.
Through our discussions I was able to figure out exactly what I wanted to get out of my year abroad.  With their knowledge, previous experience, and connections, My Gap Year helped me get in contact with the best programs and organizations.   They also provided me with different approaches to choosing my career path and what steps I can take as far as school and work experience.

M.P (mygapyear alumni)
Although I love to travel, I had too many personal commitments at home
and was not able to take a trip during my year off. Instead I remained in
Toronto, and surprisingly still had an amazing year. It was precisely the
decision to stay at home that made my year so rewarding: I was able to
balance working part-time, creating a portfolio for university, going out with
friends, and spending time with family. Mygapyear even found me volunteer
opportunities and a very educational online course to take in my spare time.
It was a year full of self-discovery; I learned that when I’m faced with
obstacles (no matter how big or small) I will always power through with
determination. I am more independent, resilient, and confident in my ability
to deal with stress. I no longer dread starting school and I look forward to
new challenges and opportunities. The people at mygapyear were extremely
helpful and encouraging, they kept me motivated and offered advice when
I was under pressure. I recommend mygapyear to anyone who wants to
experience new things and learn about their true personality and goals, but
isn’t sure where to begin. They will be with you every step of the way.

L.A. (mygapyear alumni)
In this time I have overcome my health risks and pains, engaged myself in new activities, expanded my horizons of travel, and overall became the person I always felt I would be while achieving my ultimate wellbeing.

L.B. (mygapyear alumni parent)
Just have a quick look at the internet; there seem to be a million opportunities for young people, but sorting through all the prospects is daunting. Besides the pure volume of information, there is always the concern that what you are looking at may not be quite as it seems. mygapyear acts as a resource to work through all the possibilities much more efficiently.  They bring focus and credibility to what is available. In the end, mygapyear helped [my daughter] enact a plan that included local (hobby) classes, volunteer work and the culmination – a job overseas (as a camp counselor).

C.R. (mygapyear alumni parent)
The past year has truly been one of growth and discovery for [my daughter]. Formerly a bit tentative and uncertain about her future, she has matured into a clearly confident and independent young adult. Her time spent studying and travelling in Europe enhanced not only her understanding and appreciation of other cultures and languages, but contributed to her sense of independence and direction in life. She now has set and achievable goals, towards which she has already begun to progress with her language studies abroad.
As parents, we had the opportunity to watch [my daughter] grow over the course of the year, and feel reassured that she is ready to tackle her freshman year at [] University with a new sense of purpose and motivation. We could not be more delighted with the outcome of [our daughter]’s gap year, and the guidance she received from MyGapYear Inc.

Visit us for more information

Friday, 10 February 2012

Blogging Gapper from South America

After our two day stay in La Paz, we set of on our journey to Rurrenabaque and the Amazon Basin. Our flight left La Paz at 7 a.m and landed in Rurrenabaque an hour later. When we landed we were surprised to see that there was no terminal, or building for that matter, rather there was just a landing strip and a few jeeps waiting to take us to our hostal. The rest of the day was spent exploring the town of Rurrenabaque, a small town located in the Amazon River Basin. The town was beautiful and surprisinly had more internet cafe´s then it did restaraunts. After having the balance of the day to walk around and explore the town, it was off to bed to get ready for our adventure.

We left Rurrenabaque early the next morning and drove for 3 hours to the town of Santa
Rosa, where we had lunch. The boat launch was 10 minutes away from the town and that is where we would begin our journey. The boats we travelled in were long, skinny and wooden, with a motor on
the back. They sat eight people in each, with a guide steering each boat. After loading our bags, we started heading down the river and immediately started to see animals such as Alligators, Tropical Birds, Monkeys and Capybarras, which are the largest rodents in the world. We boated for about 2 hours and then stopped and were given a chance to go swimming with the Pink Dolphins. The Pink Dolphins are fresh water river dolphins located in the Amazon River systems in South America. The dolphins were very shy and we really only saw them when the came up for air, but a few times a dolphin popped up 5 meters in front of you. After about a half an hour of swimming, we got back in our boats and headed off to our cabin where we would spend the next two nights. The facility we stayed at was very simple, it had a big cabin with ten beds for the boys, and a cabin of six and two for the girls. There were two bathrooms, a few showers, and a dinning room and kitchen. Each bed had a light blue mosqutio net attached to them, which succesfully kept out the bugs and gave everyone there on little sleeping oasis. Before dinner, we went back in the boats and went about ten minutes down the river to another cabin to watch the sunset. It was amazing to watch the sunset over the entire jungle, truly one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. As soon as the sun went down, we headed back to our homebase and had dinner, and the minute dinner was over, I climbed into my sleeping oasis and was out in a matter of seconds.

The next day, after breakfast, we went to hunt for Anacondas in the Pampas. We walked for two hours through tall grass, swamps, bushes, and hopped through fences before arriving at the area where the Anacondas were. The guides made us spread out in a long line that covered most of the area, and told us to walk slowly ahead and alret them if we saw any movement.We walked for about twenty minutues and were about to head to another area when a few people from another group yelled that they had found one. The entire group ran as fast as we could to see the snake. The Anaconda was 3 meters long and looked quite scared with thirty plus people taking pictures of it. We marvelled at the snake for a while and then started our long two hour trek back to our boats. We went back to our base and had lunch, followed by a three hour siesta. In the afternoon we went back to swim with the dolphins some more. After another half hour of swimming we went back to our cabin, had dinner, and went off to bed.

The next morning, there was an optional trip to go watch the sunrise in which most of the girls went and almost none of the boys went. Next on the agenda, after breakfast, was fishing for pirhana´s. Some of the group were very good at this, catching upwards of 7 fish. Other struggled catching only two (myself, one being about 3 inches long). After our morning fishing we went back to our base, packed up and headed back Rurrenabaque and to get ready for Copacabana and PERU!

Stay classy everyone,


Friday, 3 February 2012

Blogging Gapper from India

Here is a blog from our gapper, Lina, from her trip to India:

Hello to all from India again.

This past week we spent in a small village outside of Jhadol. We arrived there after a bumpy ride
of about two hours from Udaipur on the dusty roads of Rajasthan. We spent the first couple of days
sleeping in the boarding school. Our days consisted of excursions into the city of Jhadol, a visit to a local village to listen to some music and show off our Indian folk dancing, and a hike up a nearby mountain.

The village life moved at a much different pace than in the city and we all had time to settle down and catch our breath. Since the Diwali holiday was a couple of days before, when we arrived in the village it took the girls and the workers a while to trickle back to work. When they decided to return we had a full schedule during the days.

Our village home stay was a 10 minute walk from the school we taught at. The houses were all very close together and we felt very welcome in the homes of the villagers. Our days would begin at sun rise. The families would begin the chores and we would follow them around helping with what we could. After chai, we would head back over to the boarding area to eat meals.

Late mornings consisted of work in the fields and teaching at the girls' school. Teaching was both fun
and challenging. We split into teams of three and worked in different classrooms teaching various levels of English. Head, shoulders, knees, and toes was a huge hit as was the itsy bitsy spider. After about an hour of class, we would go to recess. The girls wore us out with games of tag, red-light green-light, frisbee, and duck duck goose. We would then eat lunch and take a quick breather.

In the afternoons, we spent time on construction at the teacher's school located right next to the girls'
school. We became pros at carrying sand and bricks on our heads as we ascended the stairs. We also
spent time mixing cement and plastering the walls. By the end of the days we were pretty exhausted, but we could usually count on our host families to encourage us into a dance party.

Other than our normal daily schedule we found time to partake in a number of different activities. The student teachers who were staying at the boarding house were always willing to teach us some
new dance moves and were fun to hang out with. We also learned to play kabbadi, an Indian sport which is a combination of red rover and tag. Halloween was not forgotten and the group got in costume and celebrated with candy and ghost stories. All in all it was a busy week full of new experiences and lots of fun volunteering.

We begin a new leg of our trip tonight as we head north to Amritsar.

Thanks for your continued interest in our adventure!
Lizzie and Lina