Challenge, adventure, and teamwork – the baseline for GAP. GAP stands for Global Action Program and it is an annual school trip that offers students seven-days of traveling and learning that combines an expedition, service, cultural immersion amongst many other fun activities. This trip is spread throughout Asia, from Nepal to Indonesia and everywhere in between. It will take place from October 29th to November 4th and is a requirement for students in Grades 9, 10 and 11 to partake in as it is part of their graduation requirement.
According to Ms. James, the coordinator of GAP, GAP is “a catalyst for students to have an opportunity to work in communities with people who are interested in positive social change, whether it be for an environmental cause or social or economic cause.” She went onto say “in our time there, we value the chance that we have to partner with the community on a project.” GAP is also the best for bringing us together as a team and we end up enjoying the remarkable outdoors with great company and a different country or place that we might never have been to. We end up being enthralled with other cultures and perspectives we encounter along the way. For Ms.James, “it just feels like real life as opposed to the rush of the city and the materialism and consumerism.” Students have positively reported that they really enjoyed getting to know the people on their team and getting to know the people in the community that they were based. ISKL has been really fortunate to have students that are overall responsible and make competent choices. Ms.James even emphasized that she is “grateful for working with kids who are really motivated and positive.” A state of mind where you would be open to new perspectives is very important for a successful GAP. As for what to pack, Ms. James explains that it is important to have “comfortable shoes to get around and also clothing respectful of the variety of cultures. A torch and flashlight in a community where there is no electricity or light at night can really help locate the bathroom in the middle of the night.”
For the newly-incoming freshman, both have stated in different but similar meaning that to them, GAP means bringing us back to Earth by grounding us and seeing how unfortunate people live so we would help them. This would give us a bigger appreciation for what we have. Anshika ‘22 and Maria ‘22 are both going to different destinations. However, one is more nervous than the other. Anshika will be going to Nepal, where she will hike 6-7 hours daily to build a community shelter for the residents that suffered the 2015 earthquake. Although she is excited about going because “one of the reasons I chose Nepal was because it would be more comfortable to do the physical activity” because “it is not super hot”, she is nervous about experiencing new scenarios without friends. However, on a positive note, she did think that it would help her mature more and she would hopefully develop new friendships. On the contrary, Maria is super thrilled because she is going to spend time with friends and a disconnect with technology. She doesn’t even mind that she is going to her second choice, Cambodia – where she will also build houses to help the Cambodian community, as her first choice was in Vietnam. However, the only real setback for Maria is the fact that she is super close with her parents and she only travels with them. She knows that she will definitely be away from her parents because they, themselves are also traveling.
As for the Sophomores, Aisha ‘21 and Varun ‘21 are both going to be going to Nepal and Cambodia. Both Varun and Aisha have contradicting thoughts on GAP although they are both new to ISKL. For instance, Varun hopes for GAP to go quite well as he has been on similar trips in his previous school. He is comfortable but a little concerned about the fact that he hasn’t experienced the cold since he was 5 years old. Aisha is really nervous about the sleeping arrangements. She does not sleep well with other people around and does not sleep well in general. Aisha is going to Cambodia to build houses and schools and also going on bike rides and on other different modes of transportation as well, which would be really fun. Unlike Varun, she believes that to her, GAP means absolutely nothing other than another means of “a way to chill”. She thinks that nobody is really thinking of the core meaning behind GAP, hence why she thinks her first GAP will go okay. Although she thinks that she will be bored because of the lack of electronic devices also making her not excited about the plane ride because she can’t sit down for long periods of time. Varun is excited to helping those in need, however, Aisha cannot wait to try the insects; especially crickets because people have mentioned that they taste like popcorn and she loves popcorn!
Finally the Juniors, Salma ‘20 and Steven ‘20 are both going to Chiang Mai, Thailand where they will build a house for the local community. Like Maria, Salma also sees GAP as a technology detox and a really cool learning experience because we help people in need, but Steven thinks of GAP to be more fun in the context of community service. Steven knows that GAP will mostly consist of building a house, sleeping, hiking, kayaking etc. but due to the mass amounts of physical activity, he is nervous about injuries he might potentially face.
Also similar to Maria, Salma is close to her mother which means she will be leaving her mom and not having a direct way of communicating with her makes her nervous because she won’t know what’s going on at home — it is a whole week after all. Both of the juniors are super excited to go through new experiences in a whole new country.
In conclusion, GAP is a wonderful experience based on the 3 ideas of “challenge, adventure, and teamwork” that everyone will enjoy, it also helps in “bringing you closer to your peers” and helps you develop new friendships, taking you to many places while teaching you resilience. – Ms.James