Gap Year with Experience Mission
I have always been interested in traveling and learning about other cultures, so when I graduated high school I decided to take a gap year instead of going straight to college.
I spent the fall of 2015 raising money to travel to the Caribbean with a mission organization called Experience Mission in their 6 month long Immersion program. In January I traveled to Indiana to go through training, then spent a few weeks in NYC serving with the Salvation Army in Harlem.
At the beginning of February made our way to Petit-Goave, Haiti. We lived with host families and spent time learning about the culture and the language, helping our families to cook and clean, and building relationships with the locals. Living in Haiti was hard, and I experienced a lot of culture clash, but it is the place I learned the most about the importance cross-cultural communication and the issues with the way much of the the US “helps” its hurting neighbors.
After spending 5 weeks in Haiti, we flew to Jamaica. We stayed with host families and partnered with a local church in the rural village of Catadupa, about an hour bus ride from Montego Bay. We worked with short-term teams that visited, learned the culture, and helped with the mission of the local church. We built many relationships in Jamaica with members in the community and enjoyed the natural beauty of the country. During these two months, I learned how to deal with conflict with team members and saw different styles of Christian worship.
After two months in Jamaica we travelled to Belize for the final two months of the trip. In Belize I lived with a host family in a small village full of families from El Salvador. My host mom, Carmen, owned a small convenience store, so I helped in the store, helped around the house, went to church 5 times a week, and ate so much delicious food. I learned more about differences in Christian worship and experienced contentment with the slow simple life.