Why did you decide to do a gap year with KIVU Gap Year?
Heather: After traveling to the Philippines in 2010 with Camp KIVU, I knew I had a heart to love people and live life through hard times with them, so I decided to do the gap year to explore the many different options within the non-profit/ "helping professions" world to narrow my options down. I wanted to see where my greatest passions came alive and where God was drawing me. I also had been going to the same private school for 13 years with rigorous academics, and I needed a break before I went on to college.
What was one of the most memorable days/experiences of the trip?
Heather: There were so many moments that I could list because the year was filled with them. The first one that pops into my head is climbing Kilimanjaro. I can't even describe how hard but incredible it was. It was a 7 day trek up to 19,341ft, and seeing the sunrise over Africa will be a moments that I will never forget. Others include the many adventures we got to experience in each country including the one day we hiked up a river in Haiti, making each waterfall a slide. We met some local children at this river, and they spent the entire day with us- swimming, sliding, and jumping into the river. It was a blast! Many of the other incredible memories just include the time we (the gap year family) got to spend together and living together.
If you could go back and do something different, what would it be?
Heather: I would most likely not change anything, but if I had to- I would change my perspective from the beginning to accept and embrace the change, lack of comfort, and hardships within the year. By the end, I believe all of our minds changed to end with that perspective, and we began to love the uncomfortable.
Tell me about one person you met.
Heather: In our urban semester in Denver, I met a little girl names Griselda at Joshua station. Joshua station is a refurbished motel for transitional housing for previously homeless families, and Griselda and her family (without her father) lived there. I worked in the youth department there, and many of the children treated Griselda unkindly, and she frequently acted out during our kid's club time.
I knew that she had a very hard life, and probably had a lack of attention within her family, so this behavior would be normal for anyone like her. But, I quickly grew a special spot in my heart for her, and we became extremely close throughout the 2 1/2 months I was in Denver. She showed me the importance of looking past the outside of a person and truly knowing their heart rather than who they seem to be.
How has this experience impacted your future?
Heather: I gained perspectives throughout this gap year that will forever change my life; including a better perspective of myself and the world. I not only got to know myself on levels that I did not think were possible, but I learned to see the world in a whole new light that will always change my thought process when looking at the people around me. In terms of professionally/vocationally, I learned that God did give me the gift to walk through hard times with other people and love others well, so I might have a place in non-profit work a my actual job in the future. It also changed the way I think about my future and how it affects those around me and who I will work with/for in the future. In other words, the decisions I make now are not just for me, so it is important that I take that into consideration as well as follow God's track for me as best as I can so that His plan is my plan.