Mattie joins Kasha to talk about her Global Gap Year with TBB in 2014-2015. Mattie discusses how she was always the student who was prepared and ready for college--even at a very young age. She realized during her junior year in high school that she was learning for the sake of achievement instead of for the sake of learning and growth. She was stressing about grades, about getting into a good college, about test scores, etc.
When Mattie found TBB, she immediately fell in love with the program. She saw the opportunity that TBB offered to her, as someone very excited about learning in a new way, and engaging with the world. She knew she wanted to commit to the full seven month experience because she read blogs from previous students and saw the growth and learning they had throughout the full length program. She knew she wanted to do that, to be away from home for the year and to see as much of the world as possible. Mattie wanted to understand how different cultures and people live, to see diverse parts of the world, and to experience as much of it as she could.
Mattie’s group spent extensive time in Ecuador, Thailand, India, and South Africa. Mattie enjoyed the world project in India the most, not because it was easy, but because a lot of her personal growth and learning came from teaching in schools in Jaipur. She had a complicated relationship with teaching, because she was also grappling with the TBB curriculum that brings about questions of pedagogy and her role teaching English in schools. She left the education unit with a new appreciation for education and the important work that teachers do.
Mattie’s advice to new TBB students is to take full advantage of the homestay experience. “Looking back, it’s such a unique opportunity to be able to live with a family in a totally different place and have them accept you and take you in and show you their culture.” It taught her lessons of empathy, learning to listen, the importance of sharing meals together, and trying new things. Check out the rest of Mattie’s interview for more advice from her gap year experience!