As the mid-spring showers fell hard over the green campus, the tonic smell of rain hung in the air, like tangible triumph. The red brick walkways were covered in a sheet of water, inches thick. My converse sneakers offered little resistance against the cool water, which I could now feel sloshing between my toes. It was only about 4 o’clock, but the heavy rainclouds seemed to prematurely bring on the twilight, the darkness of which was at stark contrast to the two preceding days. A sense of crisp melancholy had settled over Chapel Hill.
Kalli and I shared an umbrella. It may have been sufficient cover for one of us, but with us both under it the majority of our bodies were exposed to the pouring rain. It was a nice gesture from Kalli, though. Out of all the people that I had met, Kalli was the one I felt most connected to. I believe it was something in the way we laughed at things that we had in common. I watched as my binder containing all of my notes from orientation was pelted with water. All the ink that I carefully and intricately laid down onto each page to convey the multitude of information that was supplied was now running into meaningless blobs. The fruits of my labor were lost.
I felt no remorse, though. The notes were merely byproducts of a profound experience. The main thing that I needed to know was instilled deep into my mind. I smiled as we walked on toward the restaurant on Franklin Street. By the time we got there, my left arm and her right arm were soaked; the fabric of our shirts clung to our skin like it was painted on.
In the dark barroom, a single light blasted the table top from above, like a spotlight on a stage. It seemed to put emphasis on the conversations unfolding in front of me. Sounds of joy and laughter unburdened the silence. The former gap year students were exchanging experiences and speaking about who had changed, and in what ways. The discourse that stuck with me the most was Jasmine’s: “My perception of people’s motivations for doing the things they do isn’t as cut-and-dry as it was before,” she said, “I mean to say that I’m more understanding of people.”
As I reflected on my own perception of people’s motivations, I realized that I’m also a victim of seeing people in a way that I’ve gestated before I really know them, and I’m potentially seeing them for something they are not. I aspire to change like Jasmine in that way. The understanding and community of the gap fellows made an impression on me that I will never forget. There was an overwhelming presence of maturity and resolve within them all that I hope to have one day. I want to do something with this opportunity that will make them all proud.
Original Publication: http://globalgap.unc.edu/2015/05/04/how-i-hope-my-gap-year-will-change-me/