It has been nearly 10 years since I completed my trip with Youth International, and while I've written reviews in the past I wanted to give a long term review.
I went on the Gap Semester to Asia in the fall of 2009, right after graduating high school. My international travel experience was limited at the time and I had never been to a developing country before. Spending that 3 months backpacking throughout Thailand, India, and (as of then) Vietnam was the perfect way to learn how to travel and backpack. During the whole trip I felt immensely supported by my two team leaders, who by the end of the trip were letting us do most of the day-to-day planning, ticket purchasing, and hostel bookings. I'm still in contact with some of the people I traveled with, although during the time of the trip we all grew immensely close and leaving them at the end of our 3 months was heart wrenching.
Since finishing my experience with Youth International I continued on to college, where I studied abroad for a year in India and eventually graduated with a degree in Asian Studies. Living in India helped to open my eyes about the disparities in Women's Health around the world.
After college I did a quick stint in Mongolia with the Peace Corps, but for the past two and a half years I have been working with Planned Parenthood in both Family Planning and Abortion Services and plan to pursue nursing school in the near future.
I don't know if I would have had the courage to study abroad for an entire year or join the Peace Corps without my experience with Youth International.
I was recently reading through the journal I kept during my travels, which Brad encouraged us to do, and while the trip was at times difficult and brutal there is no doubt in my mind that it was monumental in shaping myself into the person I am today. I am so, so grateful for that.
I would shout it from the rooftops if I could, JOIN YOUTH INTERNATIONAL!!! I promise you won't regret it!