Global Citizen Year gap year: a lifelong mentor

Momar Mboup - India


September 3, 2018

This year, I will be taking a gap year instead of enrolling in a university. 
Before I start, I will briefly define what Global Citizen Year is. GCY is an 8 month long immersive program that offers the opportunity for young students to immerse themselves into a new culture, learn a new language, volunteering in an organization and develop a global citizen mindset. It starts with a pre departure training followed by 8 months of immersion in a country, and ends with a Reentry training. The pre training involves attending mind blowing talks, conversing with fellows from all over the world, and setting up goals for the gap year. Next comes the cultural and language immersion abroad (in my case it is India) during which the students live abroad in a host family and engage in an apprenticeship. All these experiences will be consolidated during the reentry training during which all the fellows will identify lifelong lessons from their own experience. GCY is very interesting but explaining it how valuable it was to my parents was challenging.
As I am about to depart to India for my gap year, I recalled the day I had to convince my parents about my decision to take a gap year at Global Citizen Year. Although I, just like many of my fellows, was fully conscious of the heavy weight the word “Gap Year” carried I still believed that it was the right decision for myself. I decided to announce my plan to my parents.  For the very first time, I saw a series of emotions and feelings emerging from my parent’s stoic faces succeeding themselves one after another on a short period of time, starting from surprise, to anger, disappointment, and ending with happiness. We had a long talk which fortunately ended with an approval: my gap year began.
However, I still felt shame and guilt as I think about it because my selfish decision appeared as if I have temporarily disregarded my responsibility towards my family just to pursue my interests. That’s why my parents were reluctant about letting attend GCY. In reality, they were working so hard to satisfy the basic needs of the household, bearing in their mind that sooner or later I will be able to support them. And taking a gap year means that I lengthened the period of time they have to work to sustain our needs. Knowing all these, I could not help but to feel bad until the day I attended the talks during the pre-departure training. These invaluable talks broke all my stereotypes and biases and completely altered my mind set and goals. They made me realize that I did not disregard my responsibility but aligned them with my passion and my life. I made the right choice to attend GCY.  
 
For me, taking a gap year means embarking in a yearlong journey during which I will be able to discover more about myself, to mature to an adult conscious of his passion and goals, and to carefully and thoroughly set up my university plans. Besides it gives me the opportunity to implement projects that I had in mind and hopefully identify what I truly yearn to do in the future. 
Thanks for reading. 

Momar Mboup