It’s Time to Reimagine the Learning Process Through A Gap Year

What is a Lifelong Learner?

Thinking Beyond Borders students leave their gap programs with many takeaways, but one trend in particular has become apparent throughout the years.  Students graduate with a newfound understanding and appreciation for the learning process.  They become liberated from the idea that learning happens in a classroom elusively, and further examine how at its best, learning can be an invigorating pursuit which we practice both in and outside formal education.  Thinking Beyond Borders students become lifelong learners who:

  • take responsibility for their own learning,
  • acknowledge that learning takes intentionality and critical reflection,
  • don’t shy away from asking tough questions and engaging in inquiry,
  • acknowledge that learning is not only an intellectual pursuit, but also a social, emotional, cultural and spiritual process,
  • acknowledge that there is no “right” way to learn and that the process is neither linear, nor immediate,
  • engage learning with humility and knows that nobody holds a monopoly on truth,
  • continue to pursue all of these processes long after they have left the formal classroom setting.

What does a community of lifelong learners look like?

Thinking Beyond Borders students also leave the program with a sense of belonging within a close-knit group of peers of similarly minded, lifelong learners. So what does a community of lifelong learners look like?

Throughout the unprecedented Coronavirus pandemic, members of TBB’s alumni community have come together to connect in some truly powerful ways. Several weeks ago for example, 26 members of the Thinking Beyond Borders alumni community got together on a series of video calls to share insights, inspiration, and hope. Together, we spanned the entire 12 years of TBB programs.

We heard from an alumna of TBB’s first class in 2009 who shared her perspectives on Covid-19 as an Emergency and Post Crisis Intern working with the Institute of Medicine on relief efforts in Thailand.  Another alumna shared her insights on engaging public audiences and the challenges of covering Covid-19 as the North America Social Media & Audience Lead at the BCC.

There was stimulating, honest and empathetic dialogue which helped to temporarily fill the social void currently missing in many of our lives during quarantine. But these reunions also provide us with something deeper: they are a method of reconnecting with our shared values as a community and our commitment to lifelong learning.  For many, a gap year was just the first step.