Erin knew she wanted to go to college...just not yet. As she started researching colleges, she realized she wasn't excited. Thinking back to her time in Zambia during a trip she took with her dad, she decided to see if returning for a gap year was an option.
We caught up with Erin to ask about her planning process and what she was most nervous about before she left.
Why did I decide to take a gap year?
When the beginning of my senior year hit, “plans for the future” were all anyone would talk about, let alone think about. I thought intensely about what college I would be attending, but the more I got into searching for colleges, the more unexcited I got.
I realized I had more interest in making the next year of my life completely different than the past 12 years that had been consumed by the demands and expectations of school and sports. In 2011, I had gone to Lusaka, Zambia with my dad and knew I had always wanted to go back for a longer period of time. I figured this was the best time to do it.
What did the process look like when I was planning?
Three months before I had to make my decision on school, I realized going back to Zambia might be a possibility.
I emailed a family there that works with Grassroots Heroes International, an organization that we are connected with here that gives opportunity to people in Lusaka to get an education and/or learn a skill. I received an email back, and they were open to letting me join their family.
Once I received that e-mail, I knew this is what I wanted to do. I had to ask for a gap year from the Dean of Admissions at the school I was enrolled in. I decided to stay for 5 months to leave the other half of the year to work and save for college. I spent the next 3 months of summer working and saving up for my trip, and did some fundraising. I had to apply for a Zambian visa, and get some vaccines, and pack!
What was I most nervous about before leaving?
The main thing I was nervous about was not knowing exactly what I would be doing while I was in Lusaka. I knew it would involve being part of a youth group, and keeping updates for the organization.
But I don’t have any skills like nursing or carpentry to be able to help out in a big way. For me, that was nerve wrecking because the past 12 years of my life, I knew my schedule would involve school and sports.
But for the first time, my future was unknown.
On Monday, Erin talks about what she did in Zambia, the advice she has for other students who are considering a gap year and what surprised her during her time overseas.