Grants to help pay for your gap year!

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The Travel Access Project (TAP) recently announced what will be a game changer for many students interested in taking a Gap Year between high school and college, or university graduation and career. The biggest criticism of the Gap Year movement has been that it is aluxury year off affordable only to children of wealthy families. The Travel Access Project isbeginning to level that playing field through grants awarded to deserving and motivated youngpeople to take a “year on” of educational travel.

What makes these grants unique is that there are very few strings attached. Existing funding inthe Gap Year community is generally tied to a particular program or college application, postGap Year. The Travel Access Project is providing grants for Gap Year Travel with greater flexibility for independent students.

The 2017 version of TAP grants are funded through a donation by Sean Keener, Co-Founder and Chairman of BootsnAll & AirTreks. Keener, speaking from his years of experience in the travel industry asserts:

“If Elon Musk thinks we can put a civilization on the Mars within a few decades, there is no reason that every child on the globe can’t also have a GAP year. People who do Gap Years or long-term travel, come back more inspired, more confident and ready to take on the challenges that the world of today offers, like, how to build a civilization on Mars.”

Through the 501c3 non-profit, Travel Access Project, Sean and Jennifer Sutherland Miller, Director of TAP, have created the scaffolding to build grants for Gap Year travel. The first round of grantsare funded completely by Sean and the organizations he is affiliated with. The long-term vision is to expand the grant program to include grants from thousands of likeminded organizations towards our goal of getting a Gap Year on every resume.

Planning a Gap Year? Apply for the grant here: http://app.smarterselect.com/programs/38899-Travel-Access-Project     Know someone who is? Please share!

Testimonial from an El Casal Mom

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Testimonial from an El Casal Mom

Dear John,

I wanted to let you and Ines know how much we appreciated the El Casal program and your wonderful work with the group this past spring.

C---- 's  experience exceeded our expectations.  The range of activities, the balance of structured and unstructured time, the support, the learning, and the camaraderie were perfect for C---.  If I can be of any help in recommending your program to a potential participant, please let me know.  Thank you both for making her spring so memorable.

With all best wishes,

Libby S., Boston


Alyson's Afternoon

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Alyson (Spring '16) tells about getting around Barcelona and about her community service project with her classmate, Charlotte:

I race down the two floors of my apartment building and step out onto the primarily pedestrian street. A crisp wind blows through my hair as I begin walking at a brisk pace to the Poblenou metro stop. The low sun bounces off my phone’s screen and I quickly unlock it to read a message from Charlotte- “getting on the first car at Jimmy 1 rn.” I smile at her choice of word ; Jimmy 1 is just our affectionate name for Jaume Primer, a metro stop used by us with such frequency that it deserved its own nickname. My boots click down the stairs towards the underground labyrinth of lines that is this bustling city’s primary mode of transportation. I swipe my metrocard, and the small glass doors pop open with just enough time for me to slip through. Yet another flight of stairs, a double check that I’m on the yellow line heading in the right direction, a 27 second wait (I knew this due to the convenient countdown the Barcelona metro utilized), and I’m jumping on the first car. I immediately spot Charlotte and sit down next to her as we relish in our successful planning that finally allowed us to organize the timing of this metro rendezvou. After many failed attempts, we finally  accomplished the impossible- sitting together on a metro.

Our Families

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   All of the El Casal participants live with host families in Barcelona.  Does that idea seem sketchy to you?  Do you think it'd be awkward living with strangers who speak a language different from your own?  Don't worry! You'll realize very quickly that our host families are warm and welcoming and that they understand the challenges you are facing as you adapt to a new culture.  They're an excellent resource for involvement in the local community. They'll keep you up to speed on what's going on in the country and in your particular neighborhood.  And as far as improving your Spanish is concerned,  all of our students agree that living with a host family was key to becoming confident and fluent.

Here's what Pauline from San Francisco had to say had to say about her family:

"They always treated me well and often went beyond the call of duty, like taking me to their vacation home on the Costa Brava and taking care of me when I was sick.  Also, I think talking with them was th single biggest factor in improving my Spanish."

And Hank from Boston had this to say:

"I love Pablo, Sofia, Carlota, and Lucia.  I had such an amaziing time with them. I'm so fortunate to have a family that feels like my own family. We interacted a lot, but they also gave me my space..."