SHARE
COPY LINK
PRESENTED BY RALEIGH INTERNATIONAL

A gap year can help shape your future, so do something that matters

With many young idealists considering their gap year options, sustainable development charity Raleigh International is encouraging young people and their parents to ditch the usual ‘backpacker’ trips in favour of an adventure that matters.

A gap year can help shape your future, so do something that matters
Harry Richardson (third left) and three other Raleigh volunteers. Photo: Raleigh International

A gap year is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for young people to develop personally, experience career paths they never thought possible, and to gain a greater understanding of the world. However, many young people worry that they could waste both time and money on a year spent travelling when they could be gaining academic qualifications or professional experience.

Unlike an ordinary gap year, volunteering overseas with a reputable, experienced development organisation like Raleigh International offers young people more than just the opportunity to travel the world making a difference. It also gives them the chance to build skills for future careers or study that will help them stand out from the crowd.

Learn more about volunteering with Raleigh International

Harry Richardson, 18, volunteered with Raleigh on a Nepal Expedition in 2017. After not receiving the A-level grades he had expected, Harry decided to take a gap year before re-sitting his exams.

Harry Richardson. Photo: Raleigh International
 
“I decided I wanted to take some time out before further education, but I wanted the time to be spent doing something useful,” recalls Harry.

It was at this time that Harry’s dad suggested he went on a Raleigh Expedition.

“Someone he knew had done it after finishing school. Raleigh provided an opportunity to make good use of my time and also allowed me to take some time away from home to think about my next steps – whether it be university or a career.”

A Raleigh Expedition is a life-changing programme for 17-24 year olds that combines sustainable travel and volunteering in Costa Rica, Nepal and Tanzania. Young people live and engage with remote communities not visited by tourists, and work on meaningful projects that create lasting change and protect natural resources.

Whether you are in North America, Europe, or elsewhere, as long as you are 17-24 years old, have a valid passport, and a passion to help others, a Raleigh Expedition can be the opportunity that enables you to have an unforgettable experience of creating lasting change in the world.

Anyone inspired by Harry’s experience will be happy to learn that Raleigh is currently recruiting new volunteers for its Expedition programmes in autumn 2018 and spring 2019.

Download an Expedition Guide to discover more about life on Expedition

“I think volunteering is one of your best options that you can do with your time,” says Harry. “If you are in the situation where you want to travel but are unsure what you want to do with your time abroad, this allows you to do some good. It also provides the opportunity to become more educated in wider issues and life skills.”

Harry adds that he feels he developed significantly as a person while volunteering.

“Raleigh enabled me to become more decisive and I feel I have learnt a lot about teamwork and determination, which are key skills. It is not easy to learn practical skills like this in a classroom. I feel that the only way to gain skills like this is to do it practically in real situations, through experiences you get volunteering.”

Raleigh volunteers can spend their Expedition in beautiful Nepal. Photo: Raleigh International

Harry’s father, Nick Richardson, believes the experience of volunteering internationally with Raleigh International has really benefited his son.

“Volunteering with Raleigh International provided focus for Harry. It’s not just the travelling – it’s learning the skills of being out there on your own, planning the trip and doing your fundraising. It’s about putting life in perspective and gaining new skills – I think that’s what Harry did and he’s a lot happier and more focused for it.”

Crucially, young people shouldn’t feel bad about wanting to get something out of volunteering on their gap year. Raleigh believes that organisations who work through young volunteers to make an impact should also be committed to helping their volunteers develop personally. Skills such as team work, communication, adaptability and the passion to become active citizens back home, will benefit young people greatly throughout their personal and working lives.

“What I’ve learnt in being away from home while volunteering – having to problem solve and work with people you don’t know while overcoming cultural differences – it’s hard to see how these won’t be useful at university or when I’m working. I am now planning on returning to the UK to do resits to get into university,” says Harry.

Raleigh runs Expeditions in Nepal, Tanzania and Nicaragua & Costa Rica for four, five, seven and 10 weeks. There are limited places available on Expedition programmes departing between September to December 2018 and February to April 2019.

So, if you want to change your life and the lives of others – or know someone else who might be interested in being a Raleigh volunteer – share this article or click on the link below to learn more.

Apply to be a Raleigh Expedition volunteer

 

This article was produced by Raleigh International

COMEDY

Poking fun at our foibles through stand-up

Patrick Lamb was born and grew up in Sheffield in the UK and now lives in Vienna where he works as a stand-up comedian. He spoke to The Local about life as an English language comic in the Austrian capital.

Poking fun at our foibles through stand-up
Patrick Lamb. Photo: Stefan Nützel

What brought you to Vienna?

I came to Vienna in 1999. My older brother had done a year of his language degree here, fallen in love with the place and returned after graduation. I had then just completed my studies as an illustrator in the USA and returned to Sheffield, uncertain of my next steps. When he called and suggested I come out to join him, I assented.

To begin with, Vienna seemed very much like paradise. It was June, everybody was outside, laughing – in Vienna's lighter, summer mode. I was very impressed by all the architecture, culture and by how jovial and relaxed everybody seemed. This turned to shock that October, when the population donned funereal black and switched into their determinedly miserable, winter mode. This is much less extreme now, but back then it was almost ubiquitous.

How well did you adapt to life in your new home?

To begin with I found the Austrian mentality very difficult to deal with, very exhausting. This was partly because I had spent the preceding three years just outside New York, where the people have a dynamism that is the polar opposite to Viennese 'Gemütlichkeit'. Everything is possible and the mentality is one of “Yes, you can do it!” rather than a grumpy “das wird eh nicht gehen…”

I was also, I admit, a very bad fit back then. I wanted everything and I wanted it yesterday. Now I am much happier living here. I have adapted to life here to some extent and have met people who have been kind enough to open doors for me or help me to see some for myself.

 

How would you describe the Viennese sense of humour?

The Viennese sense of humour shares certain similarities with the English sense of humour, though it seems to me several shades darker and less obviously self-deprecating. I am in the process of getting to know the local comedy and Kabarett scene better, though much of it is very culture-specific and therefore inaccessible to people who haven't grown up here, steeped in Austrian and Central European culture and history.

I grew up watching classics of British comedy like Blackadder, Fawlty Towers, the Python films, A Bit of Fry and Laurie etc., all of which influenced my own sense of humour and outlook on life. I don't really see any direct link between other comedians and what I do, really. For me they are very much on some separate, more rarefied level. I am happy telling my stories and laughing with people about our universal foibles.

What’s your idea of a good night out?

One of the things I love most of all is spending an evening with a group of friends in the pub, laughing and sharing good jokes with one another. Something magical happens. The outside world recedes for a few hours, left outside the door. The world's problems and one's own problems are forgotten for a short time. A group of people bond through shared laughter. It is an illusion, but one absolutely necessary for our survival, I think.

My decision to work as a comedian is an outgrowth of that. I love laughing with people, sharing that wonderful silliness, poking fun at our foibles and thus, I hope, making them more bearable.

There are successful comedians who are much harsher than I aspire to be, excoriating hecklers and crucifying 'the great and the good'. The best of them are necessary, because many of our public figures so deserve the crucifixion of public ridicule and these comedians execute their task with great skill and accuracy. I'm not sure I would be able to do that, even if I wanted to. I doubt I have the malice.

See Patrick's English language stand-up show WTF? on February 26th at Kabarett Vindobona, Wallensteinplatz 6, 1200 Vienna. It covers relationships, gender differences, dating, sex, the EU, languages and national stereotypes, the Vikings and furniture.

To find out more go to: www.patricklamb-comedy.com