Imagine a world where a generation of young people engaged outside the bubble they grew up in through meaningful volunteer work, civil service or ethical travel. They would uncover a truth that is often drowned out by the noise of media, pundits and unconscious prejudice: we are all human, deserving of love, compassion and respect. In a word, ubuntu.
Twelve of those months were spent traveling across 26 countries on six continents; the rest of the time has been dedicated to re-acclimating to life in one place, for now, surrounded by familiar faces and things. The lessons I learned out there have helped immeasurably with the transition back here.
Ah - the college gap year. Thrust into the spotlight by Malia Obama's announcement that she plans to cultivate outside interests before heading to college, a gap year can help post-grads begin a journey of self-discovery. But what about the rest of us, those who aren't fresh out of high school or college?
More and more women are pursuing the gap year, a form of study abroad, as a vehicle to help close what they see as a persistent gap in gender equality in the job market. In fact, sixty-five percent of all American post-secondary students abroad during the 2012-2013 academic year were female. They are aptly using this year abroad to gain skills and knowledge prior to entering American higher education and the workforce.