Press "Enter" to skip to content

Make Good Use of a Gap Semester | BU today

There are a million ways to spend a semester of gap.

In recent years, students entering the College of General Studies, who take a semester in the fall before arriving at Boston University in the spring, have climbed Mt. Fuji, produced movies, even joined the Boston Celtics dance team.

However, in a pandemic, the options are more limited, but that didn't stop the 611 incoming students this year from finding creative ways to spend the fall.

“Students plan their own short semester experiences with the guidance of our team of academic advisors,” says Chelsea Feinstein, CGS marketing and communications manager. “This year, we have students who founded their own nonprofits, got internships in the fields they hope to enter, volunteered their time, and traveled safely. Intermediate semesters are very valuable, even during COVID-19. ”

BU Today spoke with four incoming CGS students about how the pandemic forced them to ditch their original plans and turn around. From Chicago to Hong Kong, this is how they made the most of their semesters without pandemic.

Inés Santacruz (CGS'22), Mexico City, Mexico

At her home in Mexico City last spring, Inés Santacruz couldn't help feeling lucky. His family had largely been spared the economic devastation caused by COVID-19, but he was well aware that families in his country were struggling. Mexico, which already has high poverty rates, was hit hard by job losses related to the pandemic. Government aid was meager and slow to deliver, leaving many households in dire circumstances, and rural communities felt the worst effects.

Santacruz wanted to do something to help. In late spring, he learned of a competition from Banco Santander inviting high school students to submit proposals to help offset the economic impacts of COVID-19. She and her friend Sofia decided to go in, but they needed a concept. Santacruz recalled a conversation she had had with her family's cook, Nadine, who had told her that her home state of Michoacán was plagued with unemployment, especially among women. The two young women wondered, what if they could hire women in Michoacán to make a product that they could sell?

 A photo of Inés Santacruz holding jars of jams and preserves in front of her face. Several jars also sit on a table in front of her. "Class =" wp-image-293577 "/>
<figcaption> Once the jars, which contain jams and preserves such as strawberry-chia and pickled nopal, arrive from Las Perìtas, Santacruz sells them in an online market. Photo by Maria Paula Villavicencio </figcaption></figure><p> They made a plan to create an organic jam and preserves business. They didn't win the competition, but the two of them launched their business anyway, Home to Home, last summer. <strong> </strong> Santacruz obtained funds from a family friend and, within weeks, the women of Nadine's hometown, Las Perìtas, were preparing and canning jam from the products that grew in their patios. "Jam is one of the easiest organic products to make," says Santacruz.</p><p> "We ended up with 26 women, most of whom had never worked before and depended on their husbands, who were now unemployed, for income," she says. They then became the main source of income for their families. It has been very enriching. "</p><p> De Hogar a Hogar's offerings include classics like strawberry, raspberry and orange jam, as well as more exotic variants like cactus, pineapple-coconut and guava pastes. Each jar has a label on the back that identifies the manufacturer, says Santacruz, so that “you know who made it and their story.” A man from Las Perìtas drives all the jars to Mexico City, where Santacruz then sells them at Canasta Rosa, a Online market comparable to Amazon. Depending on the flavor, jams range from 70 to 120 pesos (around $ 4.50 to $ 6) for small jars and from 125 to 195 pesos (around $ 6.30 to $ 9.80) for large ones. De Hogar a Hogar also sells organic agave honey, fruits preserved in syrup, pickled nopal and chili paste, all made in Las Perìtas.</p><p> Running a business at the age of 18 has been a learning curve real, recognizes Santacruz. He did a couple of e courses on entrepreneurship and online marketing, which helped her organize the operation and expand her customer base. She recently received an offer to include her jams in Christmas baskets from a local business and was invited to participate in a Christmas bazaar. She plans to continue with the company while at BU, with the help of friends and colleagues in the field at home.</p><p> "These women depend on me," says Santacruz. “This took us all out of our comfort zone. Much of the impact of the operation, I have been told, is that they discover that they can be more than just housewives and discover new skills and a perspective on life that involves them at work. So now they have a way of living, with a source of income during COVID-19. It's pretty cool. "</p><h3> David Yeung (CGS'22), Hong Kong, China</h3><p> Yeung had <em> so many plans </em>. He took a year off after graduating from college. high school in May 2019, and plans to fill it with travel, internships, and volunteering. She spent a couple of weeks visiting family in Guangzhou that summer, and even came to New York in early 2020 to participate in an intermediate semester program of six months in the New York Times <em> </em>. Then COVID-19 came to the United States and it's game over.</p><p> "All my plans had to change when the pandemic happened," says Yeung "I had to get out of New York as soon as I could, and then go with the flow."</p><p> The thing is, Yeung was never particularly <em> good </em> at going with the flow. On his own. admission, has always been a type of "structure" that thrives on schedules and productivity. Heading home to Hong Kong, he was less than thrilled to find himself with no clear plans.</p><div

 A photo of David Yeung "class =" wp-image-293576 "width =" 250 "height =" 332 "/>
<figcaption> "You just have to live minute by minute," says David Yeung (CGS'22) from Hong Kong, reflecting on how the pandemic closed <br
/> his plans for a sabbatical year. Photo courtesy of <br
/> David Yeung </figcaption></figure></p></div><p> But there was a silver lining. Once the confinements ended, Yeung had the opportunity to explore one of his favorite hobbies: photography. Armed with a camera, he spent months taking photos throughout Hong Kong, including during protests that shook the city in response to the Fugitive Criminals Amendment Bill introduced by the Hong Kong government. Eventually, he landed an internship at Localiiz, a publication similar to <em> TimeOut </em> that publishes articles on what to do and see in Hong Kong. While it was not the <em> New York Times </em> where he had the opportunity <strong> </strong> to work in the different sections of the newspaper before the show closed, it gave him another chance to explore the city. .</p><p> "A lot of the internship was to help the editorial staff with whatever they needed, things like research and transcripts," Yeung explains. "But I was also able to write my own articles and submit articles during editorial meetings every month – my boss really threw me into the abyss once I started." He ended up writing neighborhood guides and local hiking trails, doing field research when he could.</p><p> "When I was in high school, I was always busy with school stuff, so I didn't have time to go out and explore," he says. “The internship really helped with that. There are many places I have not been; It was really interesting and a good experience to get to know the city I grew up in. "</p><p> Looking back on his year, Yeung is philosophical." I learned that there are other more important things at stake than what I want or expect, and many of them are out of my control, "he says." I can't punish myself for something I can't control. "</p><p> And he ended up mastering the art of going with the flow." You have to appreciate what you have in front of. to you, "Yeung says," and, you know, just relax. "</p><h3> Sarina Zaparde (CGS'22), South Brunswick, NJ</h3><p> When the pandemic struck, Zaparde already he knew exactly what he would do during his sabbatical semester: continue to run the nonprofit organization that he started when he was 13.</p><p> Yes, 13.</p>
class=  A photo of Sarina Zaparde talking with other uniformed girls "class =" wp-image-293579 "/>
<figcaption> Sarina Zaparde (CGS'22), here with some of the girls her organization helped, founded Dress to Learn, a non-profit organization that provides free school uniforms and shoes to orphaned girls in India, after of observing a staggering gender imbalance in rural schools in India. Photo courtesy of Zaparde </figcaption></figure><p> Growing up, Zaparde visited his father's native village in central India every year, where he observed the obstacles girls his age faced in attending school . That's if they could go first: In rural India, it is not uncommon for families to fund a son's education, but not a daughter's, by keeping girls at home for domestic and agricultural work. There is also the threat of being sold as sex trafficking or servitude, to which poor and isolated women and girls are particularly vulnerable. Zaparde realized that having access to education could have a great impact on a girl's future</p><p>.</p><p> Arriving home from one of those high school trips, Zaparde had an idea. With the help of her parents, she founded Dress to Learn, a non-profit organization that provides free school shoes and uniforms to orphaned girls in rural India. As its website explains, schoolchildren in India must wear uniforms to ensure fair treatment for all students, and the price of uniforms is often a barrier for girls, especially if they are orphans.</p><p> “I thought the least I could do was try to get uniforms [for these girls] so that they could complete their education within their village,” says Zaparde, explaining that simply donating money or school supplies is not 'It is useful because villagers often sell items donated or use funds for other purposes. "This way, they have to wear a uniform because it is for their own specific school."</p><p> The cost of a uniform and shoes is $ 7. Since 2016, Dress to Learn has partnered with approximately 75 school clubs across the country to host fundraisers, such as walks, car washes, and talent shows, and has donated uniforms to more than 1,000 girls. The uniforms are ordered from local tailors, "so we also help the town's economy," says Zaparde. Shoes are measured on site and distributed from the Dress to Learn supply. As boys get older, she does her best to ensure that the same groups of girls get larger sizes every two years.</p><div

 A photo of Sarina Zaparde working at her desk "class =" wp-image-293580 "width =" 333 "height =" 394 "/>
<figcaption> Zaparde working in his room in New Jersey. Photo courtesy of Zaparde </figcaption></figure></p></div><p> He normally travels to India every year to distribute uniforms. But when the coronavirus made that impossible, Zaparde spent his breakout semester on his computer in his bedroom at home, helping high school students raise money for Dress to Learn in their individual communities. (There are no car washes during COVID-19, she says.) It is keeping all funds raised during the pandemic until it is safe to restart operations.</p><p> In the future, Zaparde hopes to partner with other nonprofits that help young women in developing countries, and says she would like to implement a scholarship program to support ambitious students pursuing higher education. But those are long-term goals.</p><p> "We have helped more than 1,000 girls so far and have made a huge difference in their lives," she says. “I didn't set a numerical goal, I just had one mission in mind, which was to make sure the girls get an education and get something out of it. And the other part was making sure that children here in America have empathy for people around the world. So I think it has made a huge difference both for the girls we help and for everyone involved. "</p><h3> Olujimi Taiwo (CGS'22), Chicago, Ill.</h3><p> that Taiwo was going to London for his sabbatical semester.</p><p> He was assigned an internship for BenTV, a British television channel serving expatriate Africans living in Europe. When the coronavirus hit the continent, the internship Taiwo became impossible. So, instead, he spent his semester off at his home in Chicago.</p><p> "The first few months were pretty brutal, mentally," says Taiwo. He spent his days at home, " basically trying to get off my ass and look for work. "</p><div

 A photo of Olujimi Taiwo wearing a mask and an orange vest while raising his thumb towards the camera "class =" wp-image-293578 "width =" 257 "height =" 342 "/>
<figcaption> Olujimi Taiwo (CGS'22) at work in the Amazon warehouse where he worked during his semester off. Photo courtesy of Taiwo </figcaption></figure></p></div><p> Fortunately for Taiwo, a family friend finally offered him an office job with his company, the Nigeria Global Chamber of Commerce (NGCC) . The NGCC is a network of companies and industry experts in the Chicago area with ties to Nigeria. Works to promote and grow members' businesses through special events and seminars. Taiwo, who comes from a Nigerian family, helped with the administrative part of things.</p><p> He took calls, sent out member releases, wrote bios for virtual event speakers, and, in a couple of cases, designed event posters. Although it was not the glamorous experience he had hoped for in London, it was a paid position (he later also took a job in an Amazon warehouse) and, in addition, a career builder.</p><p> Taiwo had originally considered majoring in film at BU, but since his time at the NGCC, he says, "I've been thinking about entrepreneurship a little bit. I've been thinking about starting a clothing company that takes more traditional Nigerian clothing and gives a modern touch ". He is taking a business innovation class at the BUild Lab this spring. Also on file: a philosophy class, to "see how it goes."</p><p> Taiwo finally got a chance to see BU this fall for the first time. She was unable to visit campus before accepting admission, so she rented an Airbnb and snuck on a week-long trip to Boston in October. Your verdict? Excellent.</p><p> "That trip made me so excited to come here," he says. “The architecture was beautiful and the other college campuses were beautiful as well. I couldn't really meet people or anything, but they all seemed nice and friendly. I was also surprised by how tame everyone in town was – they all had their masks on. That visit really excited me. "</p>

Browse related topics:

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *