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Global Gap Year Summer Institute Engages and Educates 2018-2019 Fellows

July 23, 2018 • Erin Reitz • No Comments

On Sunday, July 15, the 2018-2019 Global Gap and Bridge Year Fellows gathered in the Anne Queen Lounge with family, friends, and Carolina community members to mark the conclusion of the ten-day Global Gap Year Summer Institute (GGYSI). The celebration held the weight of nostalgia as the fellows reminisced on their time together, and the buoyancy of anticipation as they looked forward to their independent adventures ahead. The cohort, which includes seven incoming first-year students and two rising juniors will defer enrollment to gain experiential, global education that combines volunteer service, work, and international travel.

Over 75 students from across the country applied for the competitive Global Gap Year Fellowship, which provides $7,500 to each recipient to use toward travel, living expenses, and other associated costs. This financial stipend allows students to dream big and design their travel plans based on their personal passions and international interests.

Over half of this year’s fellows have limited to no experience travelling outside of the U.S. Sarah Smith, the Campus Y’s Global Engagement Coordinator, organizes the Global Gap Year Summer Institute to ensure that GGYF participants feel equipped and empowered before getting their passports stamped.

“The GGYSI always goes by too quickly because there is so much information to cover,” Smith explained. “We coach the fellows on everything from buying a plane ticket to making sure they are ethically engaging with the communities they serve.”

Smith leads the cohort through ten days full of workshops, trip planning sessions, personal reflections, and team building activities. The institute serves as a crucial time for fellows to learn from and lean on each other.

“The summer institute made me feel like I was not alone in this crazy planning process and provided me with a strong sense of community,” Ambar Khawaja (’23) said. “I learned that things have a way of falling into place if I learn to let go of the multitude of tiny worries and anxieties I have.”

Highlights from this year’s GGYSI included:

• On-campus partner workshops on relevant topics such as international travel clinics with John Schimmelfing of UNC Campus Health; mindfulness with Kate Kryder of Student Life and Leadership; and photography basics with Erin Reitz of the Campus Y.

• “Lunch and learns” with GGYF alumni who shared their personal gap year stories and advice

• Team-building activities at UNC’s Campus Recreation Challenge Course

• A Chapel Hill community exploration field trip that included site visits to The Jackson Center, the Community Empowerment Fund and El Centro

• Individual International Development Inventory assessments and mentorship with Gina DiFino of Honors Carolina

Meet this year’s Global Gap and Bridge Year Fellows below and follow their journeys in the year ahead through the Global Gap Year Fellowship blog.

Caroline Brogden of Apex graduated from Apex Friendship High School, where she served as Editor Emeritus and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Apex Friendship Yearbook Staff. She was inducted into the National Honors Society, National Art Honors Society, Spanish Honors Society and the Quill and Scroll Society. During the summer of 2017 she attended Governor’s School East for English. Brogden also founded the Apex Friendship Feminist Society. During her gap year she will be working with migrant women in Greece and focusing on youth education in Chile.

Alyson Cabeza of Fuquay-Varina graduated from Harnett Central High School. She participated in Student Government Association, Interact Club and Foreign Language League. She served as President of her Key Club and received the Outstanding Officer Award as a junior. She attended Governor’s School East in Natural Science and served as a Junior Marshall for the 2017 commencement exercises. During her gap year she plans to serve in Vietnam and Latin America.

Owen Conley of Concord just finished his sophomore year at UNC where he is pursuing a degree in Sociology and Geography. He has been very active at the Campus Y, serving as the First-Year Member at Large and the Director of Membership. He has been a research assistant for Gender Equity in the Sociology Department as well as a Youth Board Member for Time Out Youth in Charlotte. During his bridge year Conley plans to serve in Cambodia and New Zealand.

Jonathan Hunter Dail of Winterville graduated from South Central High School, where he served as Senior Class President. He played on the varsity soccer team all four years and served as team captain for the last three years. Dail has been a member of the Japanese Honors Society and recently participated in the Brody School of Medicine Honors Research Program. During his gap year Dail plans to spend time in Japan, Vietnam and Senegal.

Alexis Dumain of Hillsborough graduated from Cedar Ridge High School. Dumain served as President of National Honor Society and Spanish Language and Culture Club. She attended Governor’s School West for choral music and directed her high school’s acapella group. Dumain was a varsity starter on her volleyball team as well as team captain during her junior year. During her gap year, she plans to learn about sustainable agriculture in Peru and Costa Rica and get involved in youth civic engagement in Hungary.

Ameena Hester of Gastonia graduated from Highland School of Technology where she served as president of Beta Club and won the Hannah Leitner Award and Scholarship for her district. She founded the IMPACT! Muslim Youth Volunteer Group and the Do-It-Herself Female Empowerment Project. She co-founded and served as chairwoman of the Gaston County Teen Democrats. During her gap year, Hester plans to work with accessible health care in Egypt and serve in Ecuador.

Ambar Khawaja of Thomasville graduated from High Point Central High School where she was active in the Beta Club, Human Relations Club, Interact Club and Service Learning Youth Council. She served as the Communications Director for the Youth Action Project of the White Privilege Conference and helped plan the annual conference. During her gap year, Khawaja plans to focus on English literacy and youth development in Morocco and Nepal.

Fatima Konsouh of Charlotte graduated from the North Carolina School for Science and Math. Konsouh served as Muslim Student Association Officer and a Residential Life Assistant. She also participated in Girls for Science and United Muslim Relief. During her gap year she plans to serve in Malaysia and Kenya.

Amena Saad of Durham just completed her second year at UNC where she is pursuing a degree in Journalism and Business Studies. She has served as co-leader of an APPLES Service-Learning Alternative Break to Asheville, which focused on hunger and homelessness. Saad is a member of the Editorial Board for the Daily Tar Heel and a UNC Admissions Ambassador. She also serves as an advocate through the Community Empowerment Fund. During her bridge year, Saad plans to volunteer with refugee populations in South Africa and Turkey.

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