I’m Cora. I took a gap year before attending UNC Chapel Hill as a member of the class of 2015. This blog chronicled the adventures of that year.
Here’s where I have been:
NEPAL from September 9th to 27th (2 1/2 weeks). I hiked the Annapurna Base Camp Trail in the Himalayas, which is a beautiful trail that’s well-traveled and goes through mountain villages on the way up to the base camp of Annapurna, the 10th highest peak in the world. I traveled with Ellen Currin, a friend who’s taking a gap year and then going to UNC as well. We stayed in tea houses each night in the villages and trekked each day.
KENYA from September 27th to December 1 (2 months). There’s a school near Nanyuki, Kenya called Daraja Academy with which my school has a partnership. It’s an all-girls boarding school giving free secondary education to girls who otherwise would not have the chance of further education. There, I tutored math in the evening, and worked on the construction of the Shamba Shed, an adobe garden shed for tool storage and shaded work, during the day. The Shamba Shed ended up being my main project while I was there, and it was a lot of fun to work with the Daraja girls and be able to teach them something new about natural building.
I was home for the month of December!
Here’s what’s I did:
I was in ARGENTINA from January 12th to May 5th. During the month of January, I stayed in Buenos Aires with family; my grandma grew up in Argentina and her two sisters, their six daughters, and their many grandchildren (my second cousins) all still live in Buenos Aires. I took the opportunity to get comfortable speaking Spanish, explore the city, and spend time with my relatives. I then made my way down to Cholila, Chubut, a tiny town in Patagonia, through Bariloche and El Bolson, staying at hostels and doing some backpacking along the way. In Cholila, I worked on a farm owned by two Mapuches (one of the Argentinean native groups), where I did some carpentry, helped make a mud floor, helped out in the garden, and did some random organizing and natural building. When I wasn’t working, I learned new crafts (crocheting, bread baking, making natural creams and oils), went rock climbing, and made friends in the tiny town. Next, I traveled to Santiago, Chile to do a two-week Wilderness First Responder Course, in which I was the youngest and only non-Chilean participant. My family spent spring break here, so we spent a week together in Buenos Aires, then went to Iguazu. After they left, I spent my final month in Buenos Aires with my family doing a family history project. I intend to compile a book of stories, photos, recipes, family trees, and timelines all about my family in Argentina. My grandma and her sisters had an incredible childhood in Patagonia, as did the rest of the family that spent their summers on El Fortín, the sheep farm that our family owned up until 2000. It was the best possible way to end my gap year, though it was a spontaneous idea (my original plan was to WWOOF for another month!)
This summer, I am working at an art camp in Portland, Oregon, that is doing a fundraiser and art exchange with Daraja Academy.
This fall, I head to Chapel Hill!