Feeling the love for traveling on my gap year

January 26, 2017

School for the kids of Vuelta Grande started last Monday. It was the 16th of January and the excitement started in my Guatemalan host family. My adorable "hermanita" (little sister) Gabriela was so excited in the morning that she shouted through the whole house at 7am "BUENOS DIAS JANAAAAA" which was really impressive because she didn't talk at all when it was early morning on the other days. She made me really excited to go to Vuelta Grande and meet all the students. Our ride to service every morning is the purest meditation for me. We first drive through Antigua, which is my favorite city so far, and I always have a smile on my face when we go through it. I see all the beautiful restaurants and bars and all the happy people who are just enjoying life. After we pass Antigua we get on this beautiful road all the way up to Vuelta Grande. This is the most stunning trek to work I've ever had. It gives me so much energy just to look out the window and see all the mountains, trees, trails, clouds, birds, bushes, volcanoes, the blue sky and the peaceful sun. Mother Earth is just so wonderful.

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Choosing Happiness: A Lesson From My WorldStamp Gap Year

January 21, 2017

The first day back in Guatemala on the WorldStamp Gap Year Program, after having gone home for Christmas for a week, I cried for about two hours.
Now for people who know me, that's not much of a surprise. I'm basically a human fountain because I cry so much. I cry over movies, books, and even once when a friend's dog (who I'd never even seen a photo of) died. I'm a crier. But this time was different. It wasn't just a few tears and a return to normal. I was straight up, Kim Kardashian ugly crying. I didn't want to be back in Guatemala.

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Welcome to the Dream Volunteers Blog!

December 28, 2016

We are excited to announce the launch of our new Dream Volunteers Blog. For those of you who have been following along on the adventures of our WorldStamp Gap Year Program, you'll keep getting those posts from the field here. We also want to share experiences from our other programs, such as Young Dreamers and our Service Trips. Please continue reading and sharing. Thanks for being a loyal supporter.

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Realizations Made While Traveling on My Gap Year

December 18, 2016

For my third blog post, I'll be writing about two things.

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Experiencing Transition Challenges During My Gap Year

December 16, 2016

I'm not going to lie; leaving India was hard. Really hard. Once we arrived in Guatemala (the second of three countries we'll be in during our Gap Year journey), I already missed the hustle and bustle of Jaipur, and longed for the people I had become close to in India. Plus, the weather is a little chilly here! What I missed most about India was definitely our school where we volunteered in the Elephant Village, and all of the students that I had become so attached to. Leaving them was SO hard!

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Learning Lessons in Communication on My Gap Year

December 14, 2016

I'm a talker. If you've known me for more than five minutes, you know that. I enjoy asking questions and talking to people about things that are happening and getting to know a person and their views. It's always been pretty easy for me to start a conversation with a stranger, and I'm thankful that God made me that way.

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A Young Girl's Growth on My Gap Year

December 9, 2016

While in India during my WorldStamp Gap Year Program, I taught adolescent girls match and English. One of them is named Soniya. Soniya and her family lived in the Elephant Village for four years, but for the past two years they have lived just outside of the Elephant Village. Soniya has three sisters (Saniya, Resma, and Selma) and two brothers (Stiak and Irshad). Only Soniya and Saniya (the two youngest) go to school, and Soniya has the highest level of education of anyone in her family. Soniya's father is 55 years old; rather old to be an elephant driver by this community's standards. Thus, he and his family decided to move outside of the Elephant Village so that the mother could sell vegetables in the streets. Soniya's father no longer works, so her family's only income comes from the mother. As a result, they have no fixed salary and are even poorer than those in the Elephant Village.

Soniya has made so much progress in the past three months of my gap year – I can hardly believe it when I look back at how far she's come! I remember being very worried about how I could help Soniya catch up to the rest of her class in math, because she was very far behind her peers when it came to multiplication facts. Soniya also struggled a lot with spelling, which is one of the most important topics in India's education system. On one of her first tests, Soniya had so much trouble with both the English (spelling) and math (multiplication facts) sections that I didn't even calculate her grade. 

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Feeling the Good Vibes in Guatemala

December 6, 2016

I am sitting in my favorite cozy hammock in our WorldStamp guesthouse in Antigua, Guatemala, enjoying the heat of the sun after a perfect morning. Jeremy and I went for a run this morning. First I ate some fresh fruits to get energy for the run. Banana, strawberriy, papaya, pineapple, apple, honeydew and watermelon - delicious! We ran through the beautiful city of Antigua. I love the small houses, the narrow streets, the mountains in the background, and the amazing coffee shops, delicious restaurants, and especially the cool wine bars. The weather was also perfect for a morning run. Blue sky, warm sun, and a refreshing breeze. We passed Cerro de la Cruz which is a beautiful viewpoint over a volcano called Volcán de Agua and over the city of Antigua. We ran the trail which leads to our school where we do our volunteer service from Monday to Friday in the village of Vuelta Grande. I lost Jeremy at some point because it was pretty exhausting to run uphill for the whole time. I stopped a few times to take a deep breath. I looked around and just admired the beautiful nature around me. Nature is so rich here, and the colors are incredibly deep. I was surrounded by mountains, volcanos, and all kinds of trees. It is amazing how many shades of green exist. People are so lucky that they are chosen to live on this overwhelming, fascinating, amazing, and beautiful Earth.

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A Farewell Letter to India

November 20, 2016

Dear India,

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A Beach Break to Relax During Our Busy Gap Year

November 16, 2016

The much needed beach trip finally arrived! Goa was amazing! After weeks of being in a city full of people, Goa was the perfect little escape. While North Goa was filled with tourists from all around the world, the after Diwali vacationers made up the majority of people on the beaches. Due to these mass amounts of people it was a little hard to relax on the beaches in Northern Goa, but nevertheless we were able to enjoy time in the water, and even build a sandcastle. Southern Goa seemed to have fewer people on the beaches; therefore, we were able to enjoy ourselves a little more.

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