Why did you decide to do a gap year in Nicaragua with AMIGOS?
I decided to participate in the AMIGOS gap year program because I believe in its vision “where each young person becomes a life-long catalyst for social change.” I was also really eager to be living with a host family and genuinely experiencing day to day life. The gap program is very independent and because of that I feel like I’m actually living here.
What were you looking for in a gap year experience?
I was looking for a program where I could make deep, meaningful relationships, have a better understanding of the world we live in and how I fit into this world so that I could ultimately begin to comprehend what I can do to make positive, worthwhile change.
What is your host family like?
My host family is incredible! They’re all extremely outgoing and loud and because there are many people in my family, there’s always something going on. My host sister and I are always making each other laugh so hard we cry! We also go on ice cream dates every weekend. Sometimes the two of us will stay up late and talk for hours! I love her so much!
How did AMIGOS help you prepare for college?
I wasn’t ready to go to college before taking a gap year; in fact I was dreading it. Now I feel like college is where I’m supposed to be this upcoming year. I feel more self-sufficient; I feel more comfortable advocating for myself and am at ease with the idea of being outside of my comfort zone.
What type of hands on experience have you had to develop your leadership skills?
Specifically during my time with the AMIGOS gap program I have led meetings with the organization I’m working with and independently taught environmental classes as well as English classes.
What value did your experience provide for you?
My experience with AMIGOS provided me with so much value. I value everything (even the difficult parts) because when I look back at every memory I realize that each experience has allowed me to grow in so many ways.
How do you utilize those skills?
I push myself every single day; every time I have a conversation with someone, every time I taste something new, every time I find myself in a difficult situation, etc.
How did AMIGOS aid in your emotional development?
Through AMIGOS I learned to cope better when I wasn’t feeling 100%. I can count on myself to pick myself back up when I fall. AMIGOS gave me room to struggle on my own but also the tools I needed to take a step back, assess a situation and decide what steps I should take next. I also made lifelong relationships with people I met here!
How did AMIGOS change you while you were in Nicaragua?
How did AMIGOS not change me is the real question! I feel like every time I participate in AMIGOS my heart grows more! I have so much love for all of the people I have met through AMIGOS (families, friends, communities, chapters, routes, projects, etc…). AMIGOS didn’t transform me; AMIGOS gave me the tools I needed so that I could transform situations into better ones; AMIGOS gave me the tools to be a proactive “catalyst for social change.” This entails creative problem solving, understanding different situations, being of assistance to others, and being a good leader to myself and others.
What advice would you give to students interested in doing a gap year in Nicaragua?
I’m grateful every day to be doing this program because I never cease to be in awe with the people I live and work with as well as the country I’m living in. Take a gap year. Life isn’t a race. Who said you need to go immediately to college after high school? Even though many people go straight to college after high school, that doesn’t mean it’s the right step for you.