By Harrison Howe
A World of Opportunity
With strong core values and a charitable mentality, Raleigh International provides those who have chosen a gap year over a traditional college freshman year an opportunity for both world and self-exploration. In a single Raleigh experience, you could help construct a medical clinic, kayak in turbulent waters and conduct research with marine biologists.
Volunteer projects in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, Borneo or India are available for gap year students from not just the U.S. but around the globe. Students can choose from five or ten week expeditions. Community, environmental and adventure projects focus on physical abilities, leadership capabilities and team work.
A History of Changing Lives
What began as a global youth projects operation in 1978 called Operation Drake evolved 14 years later into an international volunteer organization emphasizing exploration and community service. The name came from the preceding Operation Raleigh, which involved volunteers traveling on the Sir Walter Raleigh ship.
To date, more than 30,000 volunteers have offered their time and energy to Raleigh International expeditions. They have shaped communities and touched lives in many countries since 1984, including Belize, Ghana, Mongolia, Malaysia, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
The Royal Treatment
Raleigh brushed shoulders with royalty when Prince William joined an expedition to Chile in late 2000. In addition to kayaking and camping on the beach, he helped his team construct a playground for schoolchildren, among other projects, in the coastal community of Tortel.
After Prince William's Raleigh experience ended in December, Catherine Middleton began her gap year Chilean adventure in January 2001. Kate would contribute to the community as her future husband did. Sawing wood and hammering nails did not intimidate the teenage girl; her Raleigh instructor described her as 'impressively strong and hard-working.'
Speaking later of his experience, Prince William said, 'Raleigh International helps to lay foundations that I believe would be beneficial to many young people around the world.'
If taking a gap year to experience the world isn't an option for you, then check out several travel websites and take a virtual global tour.