Thinking about taking a gap year? I recommend choosing one that allows your parents to come visit! I was lucky enough to have both of my parents visit me when I was living abroad during the WorldStamp gap year program. My dad came to visit in India, and my mum visited me in Guatemala. I’m very thankful that my program allowed my parents to see the amazing work that I was doing!
My Dad’s Visit in India
In Jaipur, India, I took my dad back to my favorite spots and explored some new ones! Below is a photo of him at the Birla Temple, which looks like a miniature Taj Mahal. Plus, it’s located just 20 minutes from where I was living! We also went back to the City Palace, rode elephants at the Amber Fort, and ate at some of my favorite authentic Indian restaurants.
When I brought my dad to meet the Young Dreamers that we volunteer with, the center’s director gave him a little surprise welcome party with traditional treats and a marigold lei. He came with us while we worked on our current project, which was cleaning up a local park. My dad jumped right in to the work and helped us pick up trash and repaint the walls. He says that he really enjoyed the afternoon of community service, and had fun connecting with the Young Dreamers.
Teaching was my favorite part of my time living in India, as you can see in the volunteering section of my blog. Thus, my dad decided to spend his very first day at school with me. In fact, he loved it so much that he came back to school at the end of his stay, too! He said that the experience of seeing me in a completely new role – as a teacher of my own class – was an unforgettable experience and truly showed him how much I’ve grown.
In my dad’s own words; “She led the class with simple confidence, no gesticulations or bluster, and the girls all were rapt in their attention to her. She spoke to the class in English … and they responded to her questions in unison. I was amazed! She skillfully transitioned from direct questions – “what color is this?” – “blue!” – to call-and-response, to reading, to showing them pictures on her laptop, to writing out their names in Hindi on the white board, to reciting common English greetings, to (the girls’ favorite!) coloring pictures she had outlined for them, each picture pertaining to some aspect of that day’s lessons.
“It was clear that the girls were so eager to learn everything and that Ann was tailoring each next assignment to reinforce that eagerness. I have never been a good teacher myself, so to watch Ann so naturally fall into the roll was a delightful surprise. Parental pride is of course never completely objective, but having been a student for so many years myself, I can tell a natural gift when I see one! The girls all seemed to want to do their best for their teacher, and that experience of loving the learning process is more valuable than any specific lesson. I was sorry to have to leave India after that. I really wanted to stay and see what other surprising things my daughter might do, after seeing how much she had blossomed just two months into the program.”
His last night, my dad went out to dinner with our whole group to an amazing restaurant. We ate authentic Rajasthani food while sitting on floor cushions and watching traditional dances. I’m really grateful that I got to share these amazing experiences with him during my gap year!
My Mum’s Visit in Guatemala
My mum decided to plan her visit when I was living in Guatemala, and it was incredible, too. She was only able to visit for 5 days, and stayed in the beautiful town of Antigua. Thus, I decided to stay with her instead of my host family, who live 20 minutes outside of Antigua. We had a blast exploring the quaint town of Antigua, going to all my favorite restaurants (and some new ones!), exploring the market, shopping, and just relaxing and enjoying a little mother-daughter time.
On Wednesday, my mum and I decided to climb Volcán de Agua. It was an arduous 9-hour hike, but we had incredible views of Guatemala City, Antigua, and even the Pacific Ocean! If you’re interested in this hike, keep your eyes out for an upcoming blog post about this awesome hike.
The WorldStamp program arranges a lot of excursions during our gap year. Still, sometimes there’s something one might want to do that the rest of the group doesn’t. For me, this was climbing Volcán de Agua, but my mum’s visit gave me the opportunity to do it anyway!
My mum spent one morning at the school where we tutor, and she loved meeting all of the adorable kiddos. She also loved practicing her Spanish when she joined my Spanish class for an afternoon. After Spanish class, my host family invited my mum over for a traditional Guatemalan meal. It was so much fun!
My mum’s visit in Guatemala coincided with our group’s weekend excursion to Tikal, so she got to come along too! The trip was incredible; wandering through the jungle, exploring ancient ruins, and learning about the Mayan culture. The most magical moment was when we climbed the tallest ruin in the park. The top surprised us with a staggering view of the jungle, which stretched untouched to the horizon. I was so grateful that I got to share such an amazing experience with my mum! Check back soon for a new blog post about my trip to Tikal!
I’m incredibly thankful that I chose a gap year program which allows my parents to come visit me. For one, their presences helped me to look at where my experiences and work with a fresh perspective. In addition, their visits shook up my routine and gave me an excuse to visit new places revisit old favorites. Most of all, though, I loved sharing both the ordinary and the extraordinary aspects of our daily lives with them. Plus, their visits involved my parents in this new, life-changing chapter of my life!