Alumni Spotlight: John!

Meet John!

He is an alum of our Global Gap Year program 2017.  Now he is attending Occidental College to study Diplomacy and World Affairs with a minor in Economics.  What a fitting next step after a year abroad with Thinking Beyond Borders!


Scroll down to watch his Presentation of Learning which is an accumulation of everything he’ll be taking away from his Gap Year as he continues on to college.  You can also check out the blog he kept during his year as a TBB gapper here.


How has your gap experience influenced/contributed to your academic and professional goals?
Without TBB, I would be a confused college student studying international relations with little understanding of the world or global politics. TBB provided me a platform to discover my deepest intellectual interests and to continue cultivating them in college. In the future, I’d actually like to become a teacher; I specifically want to lead experiential education programs like TBB.
How did your gap year influence your approach to social justice?
I had intellectual conversations about privilege with my classmates and professors at my college preparatory private high school, but I didn’t come to EMOTIONALLY understand privilege until TBB. My experiences living and traveling in Ghana, Thailand, Cambodia, Ecuador, and Peru for six months opened my eyes to how extra-ordinary my American lifestyle is compared to the rest of the world. I also witnessed how people treated me differently compared to other people in my group because I was white and male. As I’ve returned to the US, I’ve continued to think daily about these countless learning experiences. Every day I ask myself, “What do I do with my power?.” My goal is to use my position of privilege to empower others. Ultimately, my gap year with Thinking Beyond Borders gave me an emotional understanding of my privilege, which has shaped my commitment to social justice today.
What’s one piece of advice you’d have for anyone considering taking a gap year?
If you have the slightest inkling to take a break from traditional academia and explore the world, DIVE IN! A gap year will enrich your life, deepen your self-understanding, and influence your intellectual journey. I know it seems scary; but this is YOUR life and YOUR story. School will always be there, but you won’t always have the chance to travel the world at this time in your life.

John’s Presentation of Learning, Washington DC, March 2017.  “What do I do with my Power?”

Thanks for sharing with us, John!