Eleanor, a former student at Falmouth University, is one of this year’s CAFOD gap year participants. She is based at Cardinal Newman Catholic School, Hove, and will visit CAFOD programmes in Sierra Leone in January.
“In many ways, my first month at Cardinal Newman School has flown by, but in others it seems like such a long time ago that I was in Whitstable preparing for the year ahead with the other Gappers.
I mean this in the sense that I am definitely not the same person I was at the beginning of last month; SITG has made me challenge myself and step out of my comfort zone, and I haven’t even gone on the international trip yet!
Since the beginning of my placement, I have said assemblies to hundred of students (I could barely stand up and talk in front of 10 people before), taken the initiative to talk to complete strangers (I am painfully shy), and have found myself in the big, strange city that is Brighton and Hove when normally I’m used to the small-town lifestyle. Over the course of the past three months, I have met loads of people, young and old; heard of so many different backgrounds, experiences and lives.
I often try to convince myself that being the only gapper down in Brighton is isolating; but it has actually forced me to put myself out there and meet loads of new people. I feel that although I have jumped into the deep end, it will be a positive experience for me and equip me better for the real world where you have to live more independently.
I have found the CAFOD gapper community hugely important in my time down here.The support I am getting from people all across the country is integral to my survival! The times we get together are really enjoyable and I have great faith that we will all get along really well during our international trips.
In January, I will be off to Sierra Leone with three other gappers for a month. I am so excited to see the work that CAFOD’s partners do across the country, and am very much looking forward to experiencing a new place and culture. Having not done much travelling myself, apart from the archetypal family trip to France, this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness a completely different culture. Words cannot describe how excited (and scared!) I am!”
Well done Eleanor for stepping out of your comfort zone. We will be keeping you in our prayers.
Could you be a CAFOD gapper? Find out more about the programme