Should I attend the “1+4 Bridge Year Service Learning Program” information session or continue my conversation at Carmichael about race being a social construct while getting myself a second serving of warm pumpkin pie? This was my dilemma almost exactly a year ago during the last day of Voices. It was difficult deciding if I wanted to hurry up one of the first conversations I had in a while that felt meaningful in order to learn about a program I didn’t know anything about. Being surrounded by people radiating intelligence, I decided they might be my best bet in making my decision. I timidly asked if anyone else was planning on attending the session, and, luckily for me, two other girls nodded vehemently. I hurriedly left with them, hoping I wouldn’t regret missing out on the rest of the discussion.
At the 1+4 information session, I sat in awe as former fellows and representatives from Tisch College of Civic Life showed photos of students only a year older than me going out and exploring communities so different from the ones they came from. Most importantly, I saw joy - in their faces, in the faces of their host families, in the faces of their apprenticeships. I knew I wanted to take a gap year, but I had been planning on spending it differently. My mindset changed while sitting in Cohen Auditorium. I vowed to myself that if I ended up attending Tufts, I would take a 1+4 Bridge Year.
As fate would have it, on March 28th I found out I had been accepted to Tufts. Immediately afterwards, I ecstatically started looking into the 1+4 program. In the end, I was accepted to go to India (my first choice) and the program became a large reason I selected Tufts. There would never be another opportunity like this, I kept telling myself. I was proud to be a future attendee of a university that fostered my dreams of a gap year. Through Tufts, not only would I have support from students on the same program when I got back on campus and throughout my bridge year, but I would also have the support of the faculty from Tisch College, another reason I had chosen to attend. I knew I probably wanted to major in Civic Studies and the 1+4 program felt like the perfect catalyst: after fully immersing myself halfway across the world, I could devote my college years to continue learning how to make an impact. What makes the Tufts program unique is that unlike other gap year programs, you don't just travel and volunteer at various organizations - instead you truly focus on one community and one place. I am living with a host family of seven, learning Hindi every week, and volunteering as a teacher’s assistant in a low income government school through Teach for India.
Everyday is a new adventure here in Pune. While reflecting on what I have already experienced in just two months, I can wholeheartedly say that I do not regret missing the rest of my lunch conversation. Tufts has given me the opportunity to make a new home for myself 7,668 miles away from the one I will call home next year.
(Pictured below is my home in Pune.)