You Might Find This Interesting

Madeline Ripa - Senegal


July 7, 2011

Three months ago I was planning a half-year backpacking trip across New Zealand. I had travel guides at the ready and was busy researching prospective bungee-jumping companies and sites where they would be filming “The Hobbit.” I was ecstatic and ready to get going.

Then, it just so happened, I got an e-mail.

The subject read, “You might find this interesting.” It was an article from The Christian Science Monitor about a program that supported high school graduates taking a year off before college. A “bridge” year, if you will. I spent most of that night reading blogs from the Fellows abroad and noticed something significant. They were taking a year off school, like I was planning on doing, but they were doing something much bigger than just taking a trip out of the country. They were doing something much bigger than sightseeing, bungee-jumping, and the Lord of the Rings observing (stalking). They were becoming educated on global issues while being a part of the solution. They were becoming fluent in new languages and immersing themselves into an entirely foreign culture and getting more out of it than they could possibly describe. It was amazing. It’s something I wanted to discover for myself.

My neighbor found an online article. He decided to send it to me. He thought I might find it interesting. It’s how I, a small town girl from Lincoln, Nebraska, am able to leave my family and friends for a year abroad in Senegal. I can only hope to be a part of what the past Fellows have experienced: a part of the solution.

Madeline Ripa