Filling The Gap
The average person spends 4380 days (12 years) being educated in some kind of educational institution. During these years, we go through many learning experiences where our knowledge is expanded and our skills are (hopefully) developed. Towards the end of this experience, every young person is faced with one of the biggest questions for which they need to find an answer: What will you do when you have finished school? Study or work? If you are going to study, what will it be? These seemingly easy questions cause much debate in the minds of the majority. But surely after so many extensive years of learning and developing, the answer should be close at hand. Surprisingly though, it’s not!
LACK OF PURPOSE
The number of young people who have no direction for their future in their final year of school is bizarre, considering the many years of schooling they have completed. More and more young people are craving the need to travel with the mission of ‘finding themselves’. Others choose to take a year off and literally do odd jobs here and there to discover their purpose. Then there are those who do nothing, enjoying the comfort and privileges which their parents give them and spend their days doing anything from watching movies, sleeping till midday, partying hard at night – basically existing, but without a purpose! “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Prov 29:18
This distinctive lack of general purpose has caused what we know today as ‘Gap Year programmes’ to develop. According to the dictionary, a ‘gap year’ is a term referred to as a prolonged period between two major life stages – a year that a young person spends working and/or travelling between leaving school and starting university.
THE ORIGIN OF GAP YEAR
The origin of gap year programmes goes back to the 60’s when governments thought it would be a useful tool to do a cultural and youth travel exchange to create global understanding and, hopefully, prevent future wars. The 70’s brought an interesting change to this when Graham Screw Turner loaded a double-decker bus with paying patrons and took them on a travelling adventure for a few weeks. This emerged into a fully-fledged business that is still a popular tourism choice today. In the early 80’s the first ever Gap Year expedition - an around the world voyage – was founded. Gap years emerged as a popular choice for the wealthy in private schools. However, towards the late 80’s when there was a crash on the housing market, other organisations developed more pocket-friendly around the world tickets which set the scene for a massive increase in the 90’s. As the markets improved, the demand for travel increased which caused an explosion of activity in the UK as Gap Year Travel and Gap Year Volunteering took off. In 1998, Tom Griffiths (known as the ‘Gap Year Guru’) and Peter Pedrick launched www.gapyear.com. They brought the concept of Gap Year programmes into the new millennium.
Currently the Gap Year choices are endless. One can choose anything from sports adventure tours, game ranger guide courses, becoming part of a wildlife rehabilitation centre, volunteering in orphanages, being placed in a rural medical centre or joining the ever popular summer camps which take place in the USA. Au pairing is also a fast growing option for those who wish to travel, see the world and get paid for it at the same time. One simply needs to visit Google to see the countless options that are available to young people today in GapYear programmes.
PRAY AND SEEK GOD
In South Africa alone there are quite a few renowned programmes available. Gap Year Programmes have become a viable option for many young people who need to either gain vision and purpose for their lives, or simply have a year off. Whether choosing an international gap year or one available in South Africa, the choices are endless. Each person has a purpose to fulfil and the gap year programme must draw this out. So if you are looking for a gap year, then choose wisely as your purpose is waiting to be released! Pray and seek God. He desires the best for you. Every moment is precious and we must use our time wisely. Find out God’s Will for you today! “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jer 29:11