Before gap, I was someone that never really felt I was able to do challenging work. I never really pushed myself to do new things, I just stayed inside my comfort zone. One thing I did realize however, was that change was needed, I just needed something to push me. Gap was this push.
The push that Gap provided me was the push to become more independent and humble. I felt like I knew lots, but as I learn more, I realize how much there is to learn. I’m now bridging the gap between relying on my parents for help to self reliance. It’s not about where I am, but it’s about where I’m headed. A year ago I had just heard about Gap, and I was still hesitant to be a leader in anything. Now a year later I have earned self confidence through trying times. A year ago I was reluctant to make new friends, now a year later, I find myself starting conversations with people I’ve never met before. Being at St. Norbert, I only find these trends to continue.
With my new self, I will be continuing this trend of expansion of my horizons. While possibly not at the rate that I was during the Gap semester, I feel that I will be able to follow the trend of meeting new and interesting people. During the Voyageur Outward Bound portion of Gap, I came to realize that I am actually a confident and efficient leader. With this gained confidence in myself, I want to engage more with teachers and students. It was only towards the end of highschool when I realized the importance of having a good student teacher relationship, and I feel that now I am able to take full advantage of my education and excel in what I do. I am positive that as a self reliant person I will be able to whatever is at hand and whatever I put my mind to.
Gap has also taught me the importance of keeping an open mind and to look at issues and ideas from multiple perspectives. The Gap Experience is something I see students should go on to learn a new level of maturity, responsibility, and self ownership. For many, including myself, this has been the first time where I can’t escape my problems. Gap has given me an extraordinary sense of reality and for anyone even considering it, I would highly recommend it.
Overall, I went from not seeing much in myself, to seeing an endless amount of possibilities for myself. Once the first part of Gap was done in the boundary waters, I learned two things. For one, I am a great leader. I was able to lead our group at a good pace both hiking and canoeing. I set goals for the group that were challenging yet achievable, and I motivated them in a way that made them feel more confident in their own abilities. The other thing I gained was the ability to move away from self doubt. I now realize that I am fully capable of what I put my mind to. Physically, whatever I challenge myself to, my body will follow. My self perception has improved dramatically, and I feel that there is a line between confidence and cockiness. My goal is to stay on the side of confidence.
Being able to have some down time at home after three months of whirlwind craziness was bittersweet. At first, I kept having this feeling of longing for being back in Guatemala. One month had gone by so fast that it was hard to accept the fact that I was back in the States with no homework to do, no Chicken Bus to ride to class, no Tienda to get an ice cold Fanta, and no little sisters to play duck duck grey duck with after class. It came later over Christmas break that I started to realize just how life changing Guatemala was. I am now starting to see the doors that Gap has opened for me. I met with my dad’s friend from college, who had gone to Guatemala in the late 1990’s for two years. Talking with her after returning helped me to organize in my mind what I had just done. She told me “It’s probably going to be one of those things where over the course of your life, you’ll continually realize the gravity of what you did.” This stuck with me, and I’m going to continually unwrap all of the knowledge and skills I gained.
I find new meaning in the idea of “the common good”, and I now feel more prepared than ever to serve the community at St. Norbert and elsewhere. I feel motivated by the injustices and disasters that can occur when humans are treated as less than human. The end of Gap has started my journey into becoming an active citizen in my local and national government, voting for what is morally right.