Meet Dylan Gosdin — Drone pilot preparing for a gap year

Dylan Gosdin is one of our first members of the 2017 cohort. He has a love for photography, and is excited to discover more about his career and life goals during his Winterline gap year experience.

The concept of a gap year program is still new for many students. When were you first introduced to the idea of taking a gap year before college?

My Dad first introduced me to the idea of taking a gap year. He believes that this program will be beneficial for a lot of my friends if they choose to take one as well. I think it’s a great idea. If I had just decided to go to college, I believe that my chances of making it to sophomore year would be 50/50. This program will show me how to take care of myself and live on my own as well as experience things most people only dreamed about.

Why did you choose to take a gap year?

I chose to take a gap year because I don’t know what I want to do with my life.  I think the opportunity to travel the world and learn without sitting in a classroom is great.

What country on our itinerary are you most excited to visit? What activity or learning experience captivates you the most about Winterline? 

The country I am most excited about is either Germany or India. I think India will be an incredible place to go visit. I really want to visit Germany because I have a big interest in cars and going to the BMW Driving School is going to be very cool.

Do you have an idea of what you would like to do in the future?

That’s another reason why I’m taking a gap year. I have no idea what I want to do in the future so while I’m on this trip I’m going to try and find something that I have a passion about that I could pursue and make a career out of.

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Have you traveled before? If so, which trip has been your favorite and why?

Yes, I have. Growing up, we traveled a lot as a family. This past summer, however, I went to the British Virgin Islands to live on a boat and scuba dive for 40 days. I met a lot of awesome people from all around the world. Some I still keep in touch with regularly. That trip was very important to me because it showed me how much I enjoy traveling on my own and how much I can learn about myself in this type of environment.

What do you expect to gain from your gap year program and while traveling abroad? 

Independence, maturity, and passion for a path in life. I think those are 3 things that are most important to me.

What is one thing you want your future Winterline peers to know about you?

I’m quiet when I first meet people but once I get to know you that changes very quickly.

Tell us something fun about you!

Yeah, I suck at these kinds of questions.What is one unique object you plan on bringing with you to Winterline and why? I love video and photography so I will be bringing a DJI Mavic Pro Drone and DJI Osmo Camera, both of which I plan on using as a video and photo journal for this trip.  I am not great with words but hope that photos and videos will help me explain what I’ve experienced.

And finally, Coke or Pepsi?

Coke, no doubt.

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It’s Official! We’ve Been Accredited by the Gap Year Association.

After many long months of document submissions, risk management guidelines, transparency protocol updates and more, we’ve been officially accredited by the Gap Year Association!

You may ask:

What does it mean to be accredited?

We’ll let the Gap Year Association speak for itself.

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Currently Accredited Member

The accreditation process involves both the Gap Year Association staff and Board of Advisors to ensure the best in Gap Year education and the highest consistency in programming.

Accreditation by the Gap Year Association represents a commitment to the highest standards in safety, quality, and integrity. Accredited Programs have agreed to consistently abide by the Standards of the Gap Year Association, which means that a student can count on an experience with the highest caliber of field leadership, the best degree of office support, and the highest standards of safety.

Skills for Adulthood

At Winterline Global Education, we take skills seriously. We tell our students that skills are important, that they will become more capable and competent adults as they learn diverse skill sets.  We explain that they will need ever more global skills to both survive and thrive in the global workplace and global economy.  And we not only ‘tell’ them these things, we are actually engaged every day in teaching them these skills – skills to help them succeed, skills to make them better people, better communicators, and better collaborators, skills to help them become more independent, more resilient, more thoughtful, more considerate, more critically aware.

Our focus on skills is not just about teaching “job skills”, but life skills and interpersonal skills with the goal of helping young people grow into mature, responsible, and capable adults.  This is implicit in everything we do — from the partners we work with to the mentors we hire. During our nine-month global skills program this focus is about consciously supporting students’ growth into adulthood. Gap years are perfect for this, and students who elect to take a gap year are perfectly positioned to take advantage of it.  Gap year students are by definition “in between”, for that is what a ‘gap’ is – a break or span of time or distance between two separate things, two separate states of being.

“We are not an assembly line, guaranteeing newly minted adults at the end of every year.”

Anthropologists call this “in between-ness” a liminal state, where one is “betwixt and between.”  The concept of liminality comes from the Latin word limen, meaning a threshold, where one is neither inside nor outside. There is potency and potentiality during liminal periods, but also vulnerability, as with all states of transition. Symbolically, liminal periods require the loss of identity, or more accurately, the loss of one identity before taking on another one.  Liminal periods are often characterized by a journey, and invariably someone to help or facilitate the transition and to guard against danger during this vulnerable state.

The young people on their Winterline gap year are both literally and figuratively on a journey (in our case, around the world), letting go of one identity before taking on another one. Our Field Advisors or mentors, play the role of facilitators guiding them on their journey into adulthood.

Do all our students enter their Winterline year as ‘young people’ and come out the other end as ‘adults’?  Does every single student let go of one identity during their year which is then replaced by another? No, of course not. We are not an assembly line, guaranteeing newly minted adults at the end of every year. The students all struggle at some point during their year, and we struggle with them.  Some of them can’t get themselves out of bed and to a program on time when they start their year, and haven’t gotten much better by the end of the year.

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

But they learn other things; perhaps more important skills.  Along the way, they learn new ways to interact, to reflect, to communicate, to collaborate, to handle conflict, to speak in public, to be independent, to take and manage risks. The list goes on. They learn the skills of Non-Violent Communication and getting to the heart of conflict resolution.  They learn the skills of Restorative Justice, being present through a circle process, being accountable and how to repair harm. These are skills most adults don’t have!

At the end of the day, teaching discrete or individual skills is not our goal, for every competent, mature and responsible adult carries with them a different set of skills.  Rather than teaching young people the skills to make them adults, we teach young people how to be skilled adults. As Aristotle said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”  This transformation from ‘learning skills’ as a young person to ‘being skilled’ as an adult takes time and energy, but is the most valuable gift we offer.

My Gap Year Hasn’t Opened My Eyes to the World

I’ve always been out of place, a stray puzzle piece that doesn’t really fit in anywhere. Back in Nepal, boarding school in India – it didn’t matter where I went, there was always someone who didn’t like what I wore or what I represented. Winterline has been different – it has been a wonderful group that not only accepts, but respects me. I’ve experienced something I feel like I’ve rarely experienced before: a sense of adequacy. Everything so far has felt comfortable, even if I’d never done it before. Everyone else has been pushed outside of their comfort zone. I’ve been pushed into a comfort zone.


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I’ve learned a lot of valuable life lessons there – inside of the comfort zone, where I can really stand still for a second and evaluate, something I’ve almost never done. I’ve learned that there’s so much growing to be done every day! I’ve learned to throw myself out there. Sure, I could just sit back and do what is expected of me and be enough. But that’s not where I want to be. I don’t want to be just good enough. There are days where even doing just that is difficult but when I’m barely making an effort is when I need to be working the hardest. I’ve met many people on this journey, driven by goals and ideas who have more knowledge on one single skill or idea than you would think there is to know! All because they’ve dedicated themselves to never being just good enough and pushing themselves constantly.

I found that growth is an incredibly slow-moving, constant, lifetime process. And most of that is the daily grind of effort and willingness to grow and understand that it’s never easy and it’s not supposed to be. It’s kicking and screaming at the top of my lungs when I think I can’t do it anymore and I keep doing it anyways. I’ve learned growth is intentional; it doesn’t happen by accident. I saw on my gap year that growth hurts. It hurts the same way everything hurts when I’m on the last stretch of ascending a hill on a long trek and my muscles are screaming in pain but I keep going because I’ve made it so far and I know that it’s going to be worth it. And I know that it’s going to hurt more the next day, but I do it anyways, because what I will remember is the reward and not the pain. I imagine a lifetime of growth, never any less painful but always stronger for it. I ask myself these questions: “Would I rather not have seen or felt struggle? Do I doubt myself for saying maybe? Am I stronger or weaker for this realization? Do the experiences I’ve had make me indestructible or vulnerable?”

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I am who I am. Nothing will change that. I can’t change who I am, and I can be bitter about it or I can maybe try and love myself and maybe do some good in the process.

I guess the answer is choice: what I do with what I have. Do I let the struggles I’ve seen make me more hateful towards those who choose to ignore them? Or do I help them see what can change? It’s something I struggle with every day. I would have never imagined myself where am today. Never. I could have easily been the next kid, fighting for an education, married off at age nine. Instead, I try to have gratitude for what I have. I have choice. And on Winterline, I have had and will have all the resources I need to make my own choices, good ones that I will be proud of and bad ones that I will be thankful to have known and learnt from.

At the beginning of Winterline, they told us it will be as difficult as we make it. We can shuffle around people and cultures like the next tourist or we can simply be present in the crazy whirlpool of opportunities that are already there for us. I’m trying to chose to make an effort every day of my life, whatever it’s going to throw at me. My gap year didn’t change my life, I did.

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How to Travel on a Gap Year to Los Angeles and Bangkok

Another reason to bring a solid camera with you on your gap year program. On their way to Thailand, Maddie, Leo, and Michael stopped over at the beach for a while before heading out to the airport and their long haul to Bangkok. We love seeing their excitement as they step up for another incredible semester abroad learning crazy new skills.

Thinking about doing a gap year with us?

Don’t wait! Our programs sell out quickly. This year we had to turn people away at the door and it did not feel good. We don’t want you to miss out on one of the most pivotal moments in your life. A gap year is an incredibly rare opportunity, but it takes planning, and that’s what we’re here for.

Our gap year programs, semester abroad programs, and summer abroad programs are about preparing you for your whole life. Not just one tiny piece of it.

It’s not just about becoming an amazing traveler, backpacker, adventurer, which of course you will. Or about finding the right, cool major, also probable. It’s about all of the opportunity that you unlock for yourself and for your entire life when you see the world and learn real skills to prepare you for who knows what will happen in your life.

You’ll learn life skills, adulting, as they say. How to sew, how to fish, how to cook and make a beautiful hotel bed. How to be a self-sufficient person, and carry what you need on your back.

You’ll learn real leadership skills. What’s your leadership style? How do you respond to criticism and negative feedback — positive feedback? How do you encourage others to live up to a higher standard?

You’ll learn how to survive in the wild, get certified in scuba diving and thai massage, lead a dance team, travel solo, drink wine and know if it’s even any good.

If this is starting to sound like the best gap year ever, then yes, you should apply right away. The application is easy, and you don’t have to finish it all at once. We can get all the passport stuff later. We’ll go through every detail of what you need to prepare for your gap year as part of our enrollment and onboarding process for our gap year, semester, and summer programs. Anything that needs working on we’ll make sure you know about as soon as possible.

Travel visas for your gap year, risk management training for your independent study projects, packing lists for backpacking in Europe, Asia, and the American wilderness. We help you do all of these things, so you’re not out in the middle of some foreign country, flailing.

Our Field Advisors will be your mentors. They’ve been through this before. A lot of us think we’re pretty good at communicating. The truth is we’re not. We have to learn. We all need practice listening, leading, persuading, consolidating, compromising.

Our gap year programs are all built on cohort models. You need to learn to live in community in order to know how leadership works, how being a follower of a good idea can be incredibly powerful, and take your peers to the next level. How to help.

But you’re not together all the time. Each trimester, you’ll do an independent study project on your gap year. For the first two, we give you a bunch of choices. After that, we set you up with support and months of planning to make your totally solo time an amazing and valuable experience.

You’ll come back with a totally different perspective on the world. You may be the same you, but you’ll be way more excited, motivated, and ready to jump into using the skills you’ll need for the rest of your life!

Ready for the best gap year ever?

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Live Infosession coming up

We’re hosting a live info-session featuring the Winterline Dean of Students this month! Come get your questions answered about admissions strategies, application info, and what you’ll learn on a gap year with Winterline. (Hint: we’re all about skills.)

The info-session will feature a run-through of our current programs, why you should take a gap year, why skills education is awesome, and why traveling with your friends makes for a better gap year and study abroad experience. We’ll also talk about our newer semester and summer abroad programs, if you’re looking to get a taste of the Winterline experience.

Our gap year programs are inclusive and we welcome students to apply from a wide variety of backgrounds. If traveling the world with an amazing group of friends and learning a new skill in a new place almost every week sounds like the program for you, then RSVP immediately.





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Time and date: January 24th @8pm EST. (If this isn’t a good time, please fill out this super-short survey and let us know when works for you.

Your host: Susie Childs, Dean of Admissions at Winterline Global Education

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Why Malia’s Gap Year Matters

Every year, more and more young people are taking gap years. Whether it’s a new celebritythought leader, actor, activist, gap years are becoming increasingly more common as a way to broaden and diversify the learning experiences young people go through before hitting the post-college world.

With last summer’s news of Malia Obama taking a year off, gap years have seen a marked spur in interest in the States, which we’ve heard reiterated around the country as we tour with the USA Gap Year Fairs.

But why does it matter that Malia’s taking a gap year? Should we be concerned that she’s taken a year off before starting college? Are we perhaps over-concerned about the choices of the President’s daughters? Of all the education topics we could be concerned about, why take a gap year?

The truth is, the American public education system has become overly interested in test-taking and rote learning, a paradigm that has only accelerated in the last 15 years. The downside isn’t that measuring progress is a bad thing. It’s that too often, measurement is defined in very narrow terms, leading us to over-emphasize the value of math and reading skills. To be clear, these skills are very important in predicting academic success. However, their correlation to success in life in general is far less clear. Moreover, the goal of education is not mere academic success, but rather preparation for life.

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Howard Gardner’s seminal work on Multiple Intelligences Theory at the Harvard Graduate School of Education makes a very strong research case for the value of not only the many ways in which we can be educated, but also successful in life. Broadening the ways we define education as well as the autonomy of students to shape and design their own education is of increasing value in a highly specialized 21st century economy.

Which brings us to Malia.

The gap year is probably the only opportunity in your education career when you can physically step out of the bounds of a classroom and design your own learning for a sustained period of time. The gap year is in many ways the most powerful way to gain real experience, learn skills, and get a tactile sense of what it means to live and work in the world. If you’re able to travel during that time, it can give you an even greater sense of how the world really works, and what it means to live in a globalized, interconnected planet and economy.

Malia’s gap year, to spend time interning at the US Embassy in Spain, probably gave her an immense variety of skills and experience to prepare her for going back to school, this time at Harvard University, (just down the street). In addition to the international experience and being able to look upon her home country from a distance, she’s likely been able to brush up on her Spanish, already apparently quite good, develop greater independence, and learn the ins and outs of what our State Department is doing abroad. There’s likely no short list to the number of skills she’s learned during that experience.

And though her gap year experience was designed to be highly specialized, that’s not essential for most gap years. For many, the gap year is an opportunity to explore new experiences. Too many students go into their junior year of college having no idea what to major in. And it’s likely not their fault!

To know when you don’t know enough is a critical life skill. However, under pressure to declare, many make decisions that they ultimately regret, or change, costing them extra time on the back end, and forcing them to spend even more time in classrooms gaining academic experience, instead of real world experience!

The gap year is your opportunity to get things out in the open sooner. To start the life germination process on a clear-eyed, good foot. To not just think about what you want to do, but gain exposure to a wider variety of life paths, and to learn what is it that you actually enjoy doing, and what challenges you.

Malia’s decision to defer admission to arguably the nation’s best university, is good news for all of us because it highlights the value of taking the time to design your own life, strike out on a new course for independence, and gain real world experience that will inevitably prove useful in your life.

Interested in joining us for a gap year?

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