The Founder of Let’s Get Global (now run as the American Gap Association), is Rita Golden Gelman (author of more than 70 children’s books and a memoir of fifteen years of nomadic travel, Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World, has been on the road for the past 23 years. She has used her anthropology training to live in the homes of people from every corner of the world by immersing herself in their daily lives. During her travels, she frequently met fellow travelers who were recent high school graduates from the U.K., Germany, Australia, and New Zealand, but she rarely met people from that age group from the U.S. Some students were learning foreign languages, some were doing community projects, some were working; all were discovering the universal lesson of travel: the oneness of humanity.
Rita realized that U.S. students are competitively disadvantaged in life as well as in the marketplace. But she is most concerned that out of ignorance and lack of experience beyond our borders, there is a growing fear and intolerance in the daily lives of our citizens. She passionately believes that sitting across a table with people from another culture is the path to peace. Rita likes to quote Mark Twain who wrote, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of man and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
Rita joined with the American Gap Association in 2012 to continue the mission of increasing participation in Gap Years. Through her partnership the mission is continuing to thrive and the impact of Gap Years are again, gaining more and more steam.
Letters Rita has received from Gap Year travelers demonstrate the benefits of crossing borders and sharing lives:
••••• “I gained inspiration and drive to make a global difference with
••••••every new village I visited… I gained the confidence that I could
••••••actually accomplish these goals.” - K. Fugett, Central America
•••••• “There will be no greater experience or education than actually
••••••living what you would otherwise only read about or see in a movie…
••••••I still can’t explain how or why, but I can honestly say that I fell
••••••in love with my 47 students.” - R. Walker, China
••••• “Traveling the world alters your idea of the world and your place
••••••in it. When you meet people from diverse cultures, you realize
••••••there are far more similarities than differences.”- S. LaRosa, Spain
Key steps have been completed through the generous funding of individuals and a dedicated team of volunteers. There are a number of important projects still to be completed. If you would like to help as a donor or as a volunteer, we’d love you on our team!