Youth Forward Scholarship Summer 2018 – Time Away (with) People

Name: Kristin Rabil
From: Lorton, Virginia
Grade: gap year
School: South County High School/Georgetown University
Votes: 0

Kristin Rabil

1 August 2018

Time Away (with) People

When I graduated high school in 2017, I decided to take a break from
school and take a gap year. I moved to Nicaragua for four months
with a gap year program, Amigos de las Americas, who paired me with
Movimiento Comunal Nicaragüense (MCN), a nonprofit designed to
empower women and children. Through them, I volunteered at a
preschool every morning (about 20 hours a week), helping the teachers
and getting to know the kids. Each afternoon when school let was
out, I walked over to the MCN headquarters for a couple of hours to
help the women with a variety of tasks. I made posters for a march
against violence, set up events for teens to raise awareness on teen
pregnancy, made Christmas cards and stuffed food baskets for the less
fortunate, and helped with several other projects. Then, two nights
a week, I taught English classes at a church for those who couldn’t
afford to classes at an academy. What I loved about MCN, and why I
wanted to work with them in the first place, is that they were so
motivated to improve their lives and the lives of women and children
everywhere. They see issues and they don’t just watch. They are
empowered and they empower others in order to make change.

Though I loved all of the experiences MCN provided me with, teaching English
was one of the most humbling experiences in my life. I took Spanish
in high school, but in no way did it prepare me to stand in front of
thirty people, aged from 13 to 70, who did not know a single English
word. I had to create my own lesson plans, in Spanish, for teaching
a language that was so natural for me. It is safe to say I learned a
lot more than my students, but the eagerness that they brought to
learning a new language was admirable. They had the biggest impact on
me during my time there – the adults taught me that it is never too
late to learn or try something new and the kids showed me the
importance of curiosity and passion.

I say that my gap year was time away from home, but it was still time
away with people. I love people and I love helping people and
learning from them and I am confident that whatever I decide to do in
the future it will be something similar to what I did in Nicaragua.
Looking forward, I take the experiences that I’ve had and what I
have learned from them to move on to new experiences and hopefully
help more people. The experiences I had in Nicaragua taught me that
creating change and making a difference is difficult – you can’t
change the world overnight, but helping one person can create a
domino effect and empowering others to help others will eventually
foster change and make a difference.

Join our Facebook group "Volunteers for a Better World".