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Radical Parenting?

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Need information on the benefits of sending your student on a gap year before starting college, and easy planning steps?

Check out Mind the Gap: Taking a Year Off Before College by Julie Levine, of Enroutegapyear.com, a student gap year adviser in Missoula, MT.

We're Going to Camp

Alex at Camp in mountains of Southern California: Courtesy Up With People

We’re going to Camp!

You know that phrase “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” Well, we’ve all heard it but this week the world handed our cast a huge batch of lemons. We were told we weren’t going to be able to go to Mexico due to the swine flu. Upsetting, I know. This news was shortly followed by a new travel plan. We were trading in our salsa music for some good old camp fire songs. That’s right. Up With People went to camp. Not just any camp, but a completely hidden away rustic camp up in the valleys of the mountains in Southern California, a place with no cell phone reception, internet, or TV. We had no idea what to expect and I definitely never would have expected my best week in Up with People to have turned out to be a week spent in summer camp.

Good Morning to New Challenges

Alex & Friend in Tapei: Courtesy of Up with People

Good Morning to New Challenges!

I once met a girl from Sweden who asked me to explain life in America for a girl my age. It sounds like a simple enough question but until someone really asks you this question you never truly contemplate it. I jumped right into explaining what high school is like and the build up and the excitement of applying and going to a new university, then the reality of preparing for the job world. As I began describing the transition from University to career she stopped me, gave me a puzzled look and asked passionately why I would never take time off to travel, to figure out who I was and what I wanted to do with my life. As clever as I am with my usual comebacks this one left me speechless. I had no good answer and became overwhelmed with the realization that I had never even thought about that option. Then, I met Up with People.

I could go into the long drawn out history of how I joined and why and the whole process but in the end fate took its course, along with some serious fundraising, and here I am today. I am 3 months now a student of Up with People sitting in my apartment in Taichung, Taiwan attempting to be your version of my Swedish friend so long ago. I wish I could sum up everything I’ve learned about myself, other cultures, and life in this short paragraph but that would just be unrealistic but some brief examples couldn’t hurt. I’ve learned how to deliver a calf (baby cow), shoot a machine gun, salsa dance, cook Ethiopian food, and how to get around in a country where no one speaks my language. I’ve learned how to improve my leadership skills, become a better communicator, and how to adapt myself to every new situation whether it be finding my way home in a country where all the street signs are Chinese or helping take mentally disabled children on a field trip to a science museum. This program has been so amazing because every day I wake up with a new schedule, in a new city, with new challenges waiting just outside me door.

We started out in Denver, Colorado where I lived with a Chinese roommate, an older couple with no kids, and 5 cats some of which ate dinner every night at the table with us, plates and all in front of them. After that I lived on a farm in Greeley, CO. Then we continued on over to tour Florida where I was hosted by a special agent for the government. We had a day dedicated Up with People day there by the mayor too! I will never forget my host family in Dade City who flew us in their private jet to Key West for the day and rented us two-man bicycles for the day. Which by the way are not as easy to ride as you think. In Louisiana we had the opportunity to help with hurricane relief and see the damage left by hurricane Katrina. Then in Texas I will never forget the amazing times I had driving through the forest on a moped with Gregor from Germany and Johanes from Ethiopia beside me. It was a huge change when we got to Taiwan and met my host family who barely spoke a full sentence in English but that week in Taipai was unforgettable. Hiking up those mountains to find the hot springs and going to the top of the highest building in the world, Taipei 101 is something that is ingrained in my mind forever. As I finally get the chance to write all these experience out its almost surreal to read them myself. I never imagined my life leading me here but it has and I wouldn’t trade my gap year with Up with Poeple for anything else in the world.

Stay tuned for all the new challenges waiting for me as I say “Zi-chen” to Taiwan and “Hola” to Mexico!

Roughing it in Texas with AmeriCorps

AmeriCorps Logo: Google Images

I’m writing from Porter, TX, where Shuffle Round’s Water 3 has spent the past few weeks doing analyses of the remaining damages done by Hurricanes Ike and Gustav to Liberty and Montgomery Counties. Whenever possible, we follow up these analyses by repairing those damages. This has included debris removal, the uncovering and subsequent recycling of a former boat that now resembled a pancake more than anything capable of traversing water, and installing FEMA blue-roofs.

As College Funding Sources Decline, Gap Year Options More Attractive

Mountain Alliance Conservation

The New York Times Business section recently published Delaying College for a Year Could Have Benefits, an article by Jonathan Glater which argues that NOW is an ideal time to take a year out, because college funds are scarce. Read the article, then return to our Gap Year Options database to find specifics on a range of volunteer service,volunteer travel, study abroad, internships, and more!

Planet Gap Year Interviews 2009 Denver Gap Year Fair Sponsor

Listen to Planet Gap Year interview the 2009 Gap Year Fairs Sponsor, Greg Cappello of Dynamy Internship Year. Discover why students and parents across the U.S. are jumping at the opportunity to attend these events.



Planet Gap Year Interviews Students and Parents at 2009 Denver Gap Year Fair

Planet Gap Year interviews students and parents at the 2009 Denver Gap Year Fair about the 'gap year' concept, and reasons for taking a year out before committing to college.

Denver 2009 Gap Year Fair Video: "What is a Gap Year?"

Planet Gap Year's video productions arm visited Denver's Sherman Events Complex last Wednesday evening to find out first hand what the "gap year" buzz is all about.

Attending a Gap Year Fair may open your eyes to post-high school opportunities for self-exploration and personal growth, and is likely to lead to clearer direction and motivation for college studies and for your life!

Parents and Students Connect with Program Representatives at Denver's First Ever Gap Year Fair

Photo: Planet Gap Year Video Interview of Gap Year Expert Holly Bull of Interim Programs, Princeton, NJ

What is a gap year?: In case you didn't know, a "gap year" provides a post-high-school opportunity for exploration and growth leading to clearer direction and motivation for college studies and for life beyond!

Wednesday night at the Sherman Event Center in Denver, over 125 parents and students turned out at Denver's first ever gap year fair to meet representatives from 22 U.S. and international gap year organizations offering post-high school opportunities for self-exploration and personal growth. Educational organizations providing travel, cultural immersion, directed study, service projects, internships opportunities and more jumped at this opportunity to exhibit at the fair and answer questions from curious parents and students eager to jump on the gap year band wagon.

Cultural Immersion in Southern Hospitality on Superbowl Sunday

AmeriCorps Student Volunteers: Photo courtesy of AmeriCorps NCCC

There are a handful of things in life that will reach across any schism, over any divide to unite people. Some are moments of extreme sorrow – tragedies like those the AmeriCorps works to reduce – some are moments of extreme delight; in this case, football. As I’ve stated before, I lived my whole life prior to AmeriCorps (excluding a few vacations) within the borders of Connecticut. One of the most compelling motives for my joining the program was the opportunity to travel and experience the cultures of all the places in the U.S. that I had never visited.