After making a pretty last minute decision to take a gap year I found ARCC. I previously went on multiple summer trips with a different organization, but for my gap trip wanted to try something different. After spending 3 months in East Africa with ARCC, I wish I did all my summer trips in the past with them. I heard about them through a gap year consultant and immediately fell in love with the East Africa program. Something about the 3 countries (Uganda,Kenya, Tanzania) popped out at me, and as I read into the trip more I decided this was the company and trip for me. Once I decided to do a trip like this, I explored a couple of other companies before making a decision. once. Something about ARCC just felt so right and I absolutely loved how the trip was set up. When I read about the trip, I liked how there were 5 global themes that you explore throughout the whole trip (public health, education, micro finance, urbanization,conservation) and I liked the incorporation of leadership and the capstone project at the end. Those three things were not included with other programs. In September 2018 I met up with my group of 10 students and 2 leaders who were soon to be my 12 new best friends and family. We embarked on the trip of a lifetime. I know that sounds cheesy, but I don’t really know how else to define the trip that brought me so much. I loved that it was a mix of values and lessons that all contributed to the success of the perfect trip. There was service, adventure, leadership, education, nature, and fun. We lived in each country for a month. We spent our time traveling to village to village and spent about a week in each place. In each place we focused on something new. A new project, a new theme etc. For the first half of the trip we went to many schools and spent copious amounts of time with the kids. Playing with them, teaching them, learning about the school, learning how we could be of service. Every school was different so it never got boring. And the faces of the kids and the things we learned from them and the relationships we met will never be lost. Starting in Uganda we got a big overland truck with no windows and limo type seating and traveled in that with our driver Thiemo. Driving from place to place instead of flying was a really special experience because we saw things you wouldn’t see thousands of feet up. For example kids running after the truck, people selling different things on the side of the road, and how the landscape changes as you progress into a new place. During those road trips we stocked up on snacks connected to the aux cord and looked out the window at the beauty. Some of the best times were spent on that truck. We also got the opportunity to camp for about a month and a half. We would drive in the truck and pull out all of our stuff and tents from the compartments and set up camp. We had cook crews and we all shopped and cooked with and for each other. This added on another component to the trip and I think the camping really brought us together as a group. Sleeping in tents cooking meals together etc. Along with working in schools, we did a solar panel project and a health project. Learning everything you needed to, to wire someone’s house with solar panels and change a dressing on a patient. Everything that happened on the trip we did it together. I had 11 people by my side with everything we did and saw which is really special because you’re not the only person who saw that village or got to experience the amazing people of Tanzania and you can process and talk about everything with 11 other people which is amazing. Along with that we had two amazing leaders Katy and Eric who were also always by our side. Supporting us in anything we needed or did and keeping the trip running smoothly and safely and also sharing lots of laughs with us. The trip had so many special moments some with my group some with the locals. We experienced so much. Met so many people saw so many beautiful sights and made so many connections and memories. After spending 3 months on an ARCC trip I feel so incredibly passionate for the company. I think everything that occurred on the trip is all thanks to ARCC for organizing it so well and keeping everything running so smoothly. I also think ARCC is just so thoughtful they really know where we were at coming on this trip and they met us where we were. They provided so many things during the trip that contributed to the trip on such a high level. For example every week we did a reflection where we were given an
Hour and a prompt to reflect on and that was then followed by a discussion. This helped us to really process and further think about everything we had done or seen which I think is so important. They also included a whole leadership component giving us each an opportunity to be a leader of the group for a week twice during the trip. An opportunity to plan and run under all activities, reflections and experiences for the group. I think I learned a lot from that experience. They also always had games and activities up their sleeves to help us connect more as a group and have loads of fun. I felt so supported and understood and loved and pushed by ARCC. Although this is a self finding trip ARCC helped foster all the relationships and experiences we had which helped a lot. They did so well at preparing us and they were always available to talk to leading up to the trip. They also did a very good job at discussing the arrival home and preparing us for what that can potentially bring. So when I arrived home and was dealing with culture shock and missing the trip and the group at least I was prepared because I knew that was what I was going to feel. We talked about it and processed it before we left. I could go on for days how this trip had so many great parts to it and how it brought me so much joy and new experiences. What it all comes down to is that I highly highly recommend a trip with ARCC If you want a trip that is so well planned and that will change your life. Obviously I am biased to the East Africa gap semester they have many other trips in countries all over the world that all share similar curriculum, experiences, adventures and opportunities. If I could I would do my trip and all the other ones over again. I don’t think I would be as happy, aware, strong, thankful as I am without ARCC.
I miss my trip and my group everyday to me that’s a good sign,