What position do you hold at ARCC and why do you like working there?
Anna: I have been a trip leader with ARCC for two years. My first summer I lead a language immersion trip to France, and the second summer I lead their Thailand Elephant Service trip. This past fall I had the privilege of leading their 3-month long Asia Gap semester to China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.
I love working for ARCC because all of the students on the trips always have so much fun that my job doesn’t feel like work. We have a chance to really experience different cultures in places that many other tourists don’t go, which allows us to have a very authentic experience. ARCC then combines this with all sorts of adrenaline pumping activities like scuba diving and our groups always bond over these shared thrills.
How does your organization differ from other ones in the industry?
Anna: I feel lucky to be part of the ARCC team because they are constantly developing new trips. ARCC has newly introduced an India high school summer program, revamped their Tanzania summer trip and introduced their India and Nepal Gap semester.
The trip to Tanzania will include a section installing solar panels so the rural villages can have electricity for the first time ever. I am most excited about their India and Nepal Gap semester because they will study sustainable farming in a remote region of India and they will trek though the Annapurna Mountain Range in Nepal.
The chance to travel in one of the most populated countries on earth and engage in meaningful service projects is an opportunity of a lifetime, whether leader or student.
What would you tell a parent who's reluctant to send their kid abroad?
Anna: If I encountered a parent who was reluctant to send their student abroad, I would encourage them to help their child learn about the greater world first hand. I would tell this parent about one of my gap students, who had never left the East Coast before her three-month long trip through Asia.
I watched her grow in confidence and check many activities off her bucket list, including kayaking, scuba diving, interacting with elephants, flying overseas, learning a new language, riding in an overnight train, and trying so many diverse cuisines, even learning a few recipes to take home.
When she returned home, her parents saw a new woman, inspired to change the world, ready for college, and confident in herself. This is a common story among students who take a gap semester and I wish every student had a chance to grow in such a profound way at age 18.
What is one common misconception about taking a gap year?
Anna: A misconception about taking a gap year or semester might be that students spend the whole time partying. ARCC has a zero tolerance policy for drinking and drugs, and I believe this is important for students to get the most out of their trip.
We had a curriculum that focused on 5 key themes including Environment and Conservation, Literacy and Education, Public Health, Urbanization and the Movement of Peoples, and Micro-finance and Economic Growth. We had group discussions about these topics and how they related to each country. Students spent a lot of time journaling and free reading the recommended reading list, so they greatly enhanced their learning.
A gap semester is about learning outside the classroom, however the supplemental learning that we do with the course reader is essential. My Asia ARCC gap students loved finding out what they are passionate about while in this alternative academic setting. They will now take that passion to college with them.