My Bridge Year

Becky McClements - Senegal

July 16, 2012

I have known for a while now that I wanted to take a year off between high school and college to do some kind of service, but as the end of this school year approached I had no idea exactly what I wanted to do with my twelve month hiatus from the educational system. That was until, while wading through a sea of gap year program websites, I stumbled upon Global Citizen Year. I glanced at the website quickly, expecting it to look eerily similar to the last dozen I had visited, but my eye was caught by what I thought at the time was a peculiar phrase. The website referred to what I had been calling a “gap year” as a “bridge year.” The more I read, the more I began to realize that my goal for taking these next several months off was not to have a “gap” or “hole” in my education. It was to have an experience that would build on my education in ways simply not possible in a classroom.   At its best, it could be a formative jumping off point for the rest off my life.  I wanted to have the chance to live somewhere new and experience a completely different culture. I had no desire to simply blow into a country for a week or two and serve people I knew practically nothing about. Rather I wanted to integrate into a culture so that I was serving a community that I felt truly a part of. Finally, I wanted to do something that would stick with me, guide my choices later in life, and become a favorite story that my grandkids will want to hear over and over again.  I didn’t want a “gap,” I wanted a “bridge” to what comes next in my life.  I feel I will have the opportunity to meet all my goals next year in Senegal, and look forward to the many adventures I will have crossing this “bridge” as a Global Citizen Year Fellow.

Becky McClements