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Global Gap Year Fellow Halden Levin (’25) offers a gift to the Campus Y: One Thousand Paper Cranes: A little gift, a little story, a little thank you

March 26, 2022 • Camille DiBenedetto • No Comments

Halden Levin (’25) is a first year student at UNC and member of the 2020-2021 Global Gap Year Fellowship.

During her gap year, Halden learned Mandarin Chinese, engaged in Zen Buddhism, and supported the disability community. She studied Mandarin Chinese at the Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages in Kaohsiung, Taiwan through the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y), volunteered and practiced Soto Zen Buddhism with the Sonoma Mountain Zen Center (SMZC) in Santa Rosa, California, and researched international disability rights legislation with the State Department through the Virtual Student Federal Service internship program. As of March 2022, Halden is planning on double majoring in Linguistics and Neuroscience with an interest in speech-language pathology.

Recently, Halden installed a display of 1000 paper cranes in the lobby of the Y (hanging from 2nd floor into 1st floor lobby). She offered them as a wish for a Campus Y. Read her blog post about the paper cranes and her reflection on her gap year below.

To read more about Halden’s experience during her gap year, you can visit her page on the Global Gap Year Fellowship blog or her personal blog, Little Dragon’s Journey.


One Thousand Paper Cranes

A little gift, a little story, a little thank you.


Dear Reader,


I offer you one thousand paper cranes, a culmination of many mornings and occasional nights. Some flew across the world and back, and others never left this quiet town. A few weathered almond milk showers, tear drops, and rainy days, and others painlessly came into existence, awaiting a moment to exit the confines of plastic shopping bags and insert name here.


So today, I see you, and I thank you. Here are one thousand paper cranes that indecision decided to hang at an evolving checkpoint. This is my wish for you: Live here with palms in offering, and don’t forget the soul there in and for you.


A little gift, a little story, a little thank you.

May your story continue, stained by licks of gratitude.


In Passing, Peacefully Yours,


Halden Levin



















My name is Halden Levin, and I am a 2020-2021 Global Gap Year Fellow. While engaging in the Global Gap Year Fellowship (GGYF), I studied Mandarin Chinese online and in Taiwan, researched disability rights legislation across the globe with the State Department, volunteered and practiced Soto Zen Buddhism with the Sonoma Mountain Zen Center in Santa Rosa, California, and along the way, folded one thousand paper cranes. In January of 2021, I began this project with the intention of sharing the outcome, sharing the wish or good fortune, with the broader community. However, at the beginning, I did not have a concrete idea of who would receive the one thousand paper cranes. As I folded crane after paper crane, I began to ponder and decided hanging one thousand paper cranes in Campus Y, which serves as “an evolving checkpoint,” would best fulfill my wish of offering this wish to the community. So today, and every day, I offer you one thousand paper cranes.


One semester and one thousand cranes later, I look back on my gap year and its seamless integration into the basic fabric of my life. Upon returning to the United States from Taiwan at the end of May, I wrote a brief reflection on my personal blog site, Little Dragon’s Journey, and in my reflection, I shared ten takeaways, maybe philosophies, that here I look back on for a moment (with English translations):



What I Finally Discovered:


  1. 別想太多,做自己就好。

Don’t think too much. Just be yourself.

  1. 別太介意別人對你的想法,因為每個人都有不同的觀點。

Don’t be too bothered by how others perceive you. Everyone’s perspective is different.

  1. 如果你不okay的話,這是沒關係的,慢慢來,因為今天你可能非常的非常的開心,隔天卻發生意外讓你很難過,這就是生命的過程。

If you are not okay, this is okay. Come slowly. You may be very happy today, but the next day something may cause you sorrow. This is just the process of life.

  1. 錯誤不一定是錯誤,失敗不一定是失敗,缺點不一定是缺點,要看你怎麼看情況,要看你怎麼看自己。

Mistakes aren’t necessarily mistakes. Failures aren’t necessarily failures. Weaknesses aren’t necessarily weaknesses. It depends on how you look at the situation, and yourself.

  1. 可別忘記了,幸福就在你這邊。

Don’t forget that happiness is right with you.

  1. 自言自語對學習語言很有幫助,你試試看吧!

Talking to yourself does wonders when it comes to language learning. Give it a try!

  1. 如果你不能專心地做事的話,應該問自己「我在哪裡?」答案就是「我就在這裡。」

If you can’t focus, ask yourself “where am I?” The answer is “I am here.”

  1. 珍惜每個美好的時刻,珍惜每個小小的聲音,珍惜每個小小的事情。

Cherish every beautiful moment. Cherish every small sound. Cherish all the little things.

  1. 接受別人的特點,別讓對方的特點帶給你煩惱。

Accept others’ characteristics. Don’t let others’ quirks cause you annoyance.

  1. 要學習語言的話,別怕犯錯,犯錯的話,自嘲一下就好了。

If you want to learn a language, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If you make a mistake, laugh at yourself.


I share these thoughts, none of which may be considered groundbreaking revelations, as a reminder to myself, and maybe to you, to adhere to these guidelines of sorts. Most are applicable to all people, and others are language learning specific. Gaining a better grasp of English, Mandarin Chinese, and now Japanese (the language I began learning this academic year) is something I find quite enchanting, and I encourage you to at least reflect on your language and communication style, even if foreign language studies isn’t quite your cup of tea. Lastly, I would like to offer one more thought or takeaway or philosophy (or maybe even a groundbreaking revelation):



Prepare for the future while living present in this moment.


我叫Halden Levin,是一個2020-2021 Global Gap Year Fellow。當參與the Global Gap Year Fellowship(簡稱GGYF)時,我在線上(然後在台灣)學習中文、跟State Department一起研究國際身心障礙者權利法律、跟the Sonoma Mountain Zen Center一起修行曹洞宗,並且摺了一千隻紙鶴。2021年1月,我開始了這個分享「千紙鶴願望」給大家的計畫,但其實一開始我對於要將這一千隻紙鶴送給誰並沒有具體的想法。直到我在摺紙鶴時,花了一段時間思考,才決定把這些紙鶴掛在Campus Y裡,因為Campus Y就是「an evolving checkpoint」,就是最好的讓我分享這個願望的地方。從今天以後的每一天,我將送給你一千隻紙鶴。


一個學期過去了,一千隻紙鶴已經掛好了,我回頭看著我的空檔年gap year是這麼無縫融入我的人生的基本結構。當我5月底從台灣回到美國時,我在我的個人部落格(叫做《Little Dragon’s Journey》)上寫一張簡短的反思。在這篇文章裡,我想要分享十個我寫過的感想或是哲學:




  1. 別想太多,做自己就好。
  2. 別太介意別人對你的想法,因為每個人都有不同的觀點。
  3. 如果你不okay的話,這是沒關係的,慢慢來,因為今天你可能非常的非常的開心,隔天發生意外讓你很難過,這就是生命的過程。
  4. 錯誤不一定是錯誤,失敗不一定是失敗,缺點不一定是缺點,要看你怎麼看情況,要看你怎麼看自己。
  5. 可別忘記了,幸福就在你這邊。
  6. 自言自語對學習語言很有幫助,你試試看吧!
  7. 如果你不能專心地做事的話,你應該問自己「我在哪裡?」答案就是「我就在這裡。」
  8. 珍惜每個美好的時刻,珍惜每個小小的聲音,珍惜每個小小的事情。
  9. 接受別人的特點,別讓對方的特點帶給你煩惱。
  10. 要學習語言的話,別怕犯錯,犯錯的話,自嘲一下就好了。





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