Alex McNab ’14, one of this year’s Brownstein Fellows, plans to travel to Nepal and Vietnam before starting college in the fall of 2015.
He was first inspired to apply for the fellowship during a class meeting assembly in which previous Fellows spoke in Rugby Theater.
McNab said he hopes a gap year will give him an alternate perspective on his surroundings.
“Right now, I’m seeing college all up close in my face because I’m here in America, and everything is college, college, but you can’t see anything when everything is all up close in your face. You got to step back, and you start seeing different stuff. And you know if I go over, and kind of step out of this whole school thing I’ve been stuck in since birth, I’ll be able to get a different view on it,” McNab said.
McNab plans to spend four months in Vietnam volunteering at an orphanage, then traveling to Nepal for five months to teach English.
He chose Nepal and Vietnam bcause they were the most financially feasible options and they were the most different from the U.S., McNab said.
He will work with the International Volunteer Headquarters, an organizations in which participants volunteer in various parts of the world and do community service.
He plans to write daily personal columns and bi-weekly profiles on people he meets abroad in hope of recreating an experience similar to reporting at the National Geographic, something he would like to pursue professionally later.
“This is the stuff I want to do with my life,” McNab said. “I want to be running around places writing about things. Also because I think that by stepping away from my life here, [my perspective] will be a little bit better.”
McNab was motivated to apply for the Brownstein Fellowship to obtain additional funding for a gap year he was hopeful of taking. He picked Nepal and Vietnam as destinations in part because of their low costs of travel and their difference from the United States.
“Part of the point is to practice stuff I think I’m going to do, the other part of the point is to change myself, change my perspective of everything around me in that process and change my perspective of myself,” McNab said.
McNab plans to attend Columbia University the fall of 2015.
“I’m sure there are other things, important things I’m going to gain that are beneficial, but I don’t really know what those are yet, because I haven’t been yet. These are the only ones that I can kind of predict. Once I get back, I will have gained so many things I couldn’t have even imagined,” McNab said.