A Transformational Experience

Danny Hage ’18 felt overworked during his senior year of high school. Physically and mentally drained and without a purpose, he looked for a higher calling. A Global Gap Year fellowship showed him the way.

The six- to eight-month self-directed service program amounts to a pause in formal education between the end of high school and the beginning of college. Danny, an environmental science major from Greensboro, North Carolina, chose to go to Ecuador, wanting to practice Spanish and pursue his interest in the environment. He also traveled to Thailand.

While in Ecuador, Danny worked with the Planet Drum Foundation and lived in Bahía de Caráquez, a city devastated by earthquakes in the early 2000s. Danny helped a local greenhouse plant some trees to prevent mountain mudslides caused by a lack of vegetation. In Thailand, he taught English to stateless migrants from Myanmar and collaborated with a local school to provide summer-camp opportunities.

Back at Carolina, Danny became active in Global Circle workshops, a Campus Y initiative that aims to inform students and start conversations about the study abroad experience. “I want to push people to have those experiences who maybe weren’t considering going abroad. I have seen the transformative effect on myself and others,” Danny said.

Administered by the Campus Y, the Global Gap Year program began in 2011, funded by an anonymous donor. During student recruitment, administrators promote the fellowship to communities traditionally underrepresented in global experiences. Forty percent of fellows are students of color or first-generation college students, or from low economic backgrounds.

As of March 2018, 38 students had completed a gap year and performed public service on every continent except Africa.

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