As I am coming to the end of my studies my mind has been consumed with thoughts of holidays and travelling. Memories of my gap year are in the forefront of my mind as the second term of my final year at University begins. Pictures of my gap year travels are currently covering my bed as I sift through them all; reminiscing has gone into overdrive. Inbetween my travels around American and South East Asia I participated in a 10 week charity expedition to Borneo with the well respected organisation, Raleigh International.
Raleigh International aims to educate their volunteers, project managers and local communities about becoming global citizens and building a sustainable community. Volunteers participate in 5,7 or 10 week expeditions to Borneo, Tanzania, India or Costa Rica & Nicaragua, all sunny destinations so the probability of getting a tan is sky high.
My time travelling throughout the Sabah region of Borneo was spent building kindergartens, houses and trekking through jungles and it is by far the best experience of my life. Through Raleigh you will meet inspirational people, make new lifelong friends and complete challenges you’d never think were possible, you’ll come back feeling like Ray Mears (a past Raleigh volunteer).
Throughout the expedition I learnt a variety of skills including; working a field radio, cooking mock duck (probably best not to ask), leadership, teamwork, nailing (not a euphemism) and setting up the perfect hammock, all perfectly transferable for working in the modern-day-hammock-filled office. We spent breaks playing with local children, organising community fun days and experimenting with our rations (mock duck, crackers, chocolate spread, bony beef curry, porridge and the delectable prawn samba). Reading through letters and diaries (and the occasional rap) that I wrote at the time bring memories flooding back; a dog stealing our chocolate milk powder, experiencing my first leech bite and my food cravings are all things that I look back on fondly. I’m aware that waking up on the morning of my 19th birthday in a wet hammock was probably not hilarious at the time, but in hindsight it is pretty funny. If I can cope with that, I can cope with most things.
If you’re a student or worker who needs some time out from your everyday life then definitely research Raleigh International! This gap year charity is unlike others, as it has the royal seal of approval, Prince William and Kate Middleton are both past volunteers – so you’re bound to marry a Prince after taking part (still waiting for mine…)
In February I will be attending my 3 year Raleigh reunion, all the volunteers and projects managers will meet again minus the porridge, mud stains and trek boots, or maybe I’ll bring mine…
Research Raleigh and their expeditions at http://www.raleighinternational.org