Great Gap Year Myth #6: “It is Not Safe.”


Great Gap Year Myths.008.jpegMeet Zac Musgrove, Class of 2015, as he tackles the Great Gap Year Myth #6: “It is Not Safe.”

The idea of a gap year inherently brings about the idea of, or perhaps the lack of, safety. Especially with a program like this one. Traveling literally all around the world, catching connecting flights, riding on the back of motorcycles, riding in the back of “buses”, or maybe more like vans, with boxes of supplies. Safety is something we as Americans really care about, whether it be national, local, or personal safety.  It’s right at the top of the list of needs for most people and that’s just fine; safety is nice, safety is comfortable.

There was never a time during my year where I ever feared for my safety or anyone else’s for that matter. That is not to say I was comfortable, I was certainly not comfortable, but that’s where God works best, in my opinion. I think a lot of people associate safety with normalcy and think that when their “normal” changes, they are unsafe. Gap year isn’t about being unsafe though, it’s about being uncomfortable and growing in that space, whether it be riding public transportation in a new city, or staying with a family you just met all on your own, or eating strange food you never imagined eating; everything is designed to reorient what normal is and how to operate in it.

There is one moment that stands out above all others when it comes to safety while on gap year.  We had just finished our time in Rwanda and were gearing up to head to Israel (which 9 months earlier was hurling bombs at the Gaza Strip and all of that fun stuff). We left Kigali with no trouble, landed in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, where we had a layover and waited to board our next flight to Tel Aviv. Around this time, Saudi Arabia and Yemen decided it would be a great time to come to a disagreement and lob some missiles at each other. We were never in any danger but the Red Sea was no longer passable thanks to Yemen and Saudi Arabia. So, we sat in the Addis Ababa airport for another 5 hours waiting to get permission to fly over Sudan. I want to reiterate that we were never in danger or anything but it was almost humorous because we had no WIFI, no way to tell our parents or leadership back at KIVU what was going on. We finally got in the air and landed in Cairo to refuel and finally many hours after we were supposed to get there, we landed in Tel Aviv. The funny thing was our group was more annoyed than anything because the Ethiopian airport staff wouldn’t or couldn’t tell us anything so we just knew we were tired and ready to move on to Tel Aviv!

I think what it boils down to is that safety is a relative concept.  Each person has to choose what is safe for them. For me, anything and everything on Gap Year was safe, or safe enough to try anyway.  I know some of you reading this may say, “Well, yeah, for you as the participant that’s easy to determine but what about the parents?” Well, I can’t speak for my parents so I won’t; however, they are sending my younger brother to the program next year, so take that as you will. Gap year is a decision that should not be taken lightly. It will rock your world!  It will make you take a double take on almost everything you thought you knew about yourself, how you work with people, how you love people.  And that is if nothing else uncomfortable, but when you’re making that decision don’t let the myth of “It’s not safe” stand in your way.

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