So, you’ve decided to take some time out from your life. After all, you deserve it don’t you? Five long years of study behind you and another five stretching out ahead of you; getting a life is one thing, but everybody needs a little adventure in their lives. Making the decision is the easy part, planning the finer details is another matter. If you’ve decided to take on something a little more meaningful than six months on the sofa and are heading off to work on any one of the gap year projects available around the world, the next decision is, are you going it alone, or should you take someone with you?
The Best Friend
The great thing about inviting your best friend along to work with you on gap year projects, is that simply because he or she is your best friend means that there probably won’t be too many arguments about where you would like to lend a hand. Chances are you are like-minded and have discussed conservation or gap year projects before; it may even have been a shared childhood ambition. It could be double the fun and adventure working side-by-side with your best mate, knowing that not only are you strengthening your friendship but you are doing good things for the world as well.
Your Mum or Dad
When moving through the murky waters of adolescence it is easy to become slightly estranged from your parents and you may miss the closeness you had as a child. Taking on gap year projects with one or both of your parents could be the ideal way to reclaim your relationship. While you will no doubt be putting in long hours and taking on some hard physical labour, you will have plenty of time to talk and you may see your parent in an entirely new light. Knowing that your shared experience has been a valuable contribution to conserving some endangered animals and their habitats will cement your bond and remind you that parents are people too.
Your Significant Other
This is a tricky one because it could either be the romantic trip of a lifetime, or it could reveal some underlying cracks in your relationship which may be amplified ten-fold when working on gap year projects. Working as a volunteer in a foreign country is very different to cocktails on Saturdays and lazy lie-ins on Sundays. You will really get to know your partner after a few weeks of early mornings and hard slog working on gap year projects. But don’t be put off, chances are your partner will come through with flying colours and you will come away with a whole new respect and admiration for him or her knowing that they are prepared to get in and get their hands dirty.
Me, Myself and I
For some, taking a few months out to work on gap year projects in a foreign country, can take them out of their comfort zone and propel them straight into a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. If you’re the type that wants to push yourself to a challenge and can open yourself up to new situations and new people, then heading off to gap year projects by yourself could be the way to go. Travelling alone forces you to confront your weaknesses as well as your strengths, and you may learn some valuable lessons about yourself. But whatever you learn can only help you grow as a person, and this solo adventure could well be the making of you.
with Amythyst Kiah
Singer and multi-instrumentalist Rhiannon Giddens is best known as the frontwoman of string band, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, whose 2010 album Genuine Negro Jig earned them a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album. It was toward the end of the T Bone Burnettcurated September 2013 Another Day, Another Time concert at New York City's Town Halla celebration of the early '60s folk revival that had inspired the Joel and Ethan Coen film Inside Llewyn Daviswhen singer Rhiannon Giddens indisputably stole the show. Performing Odetta's "Water Boy" with, as the New York Times put it, "the fervor of a spiritual, the yips of a folk holler, and the sultry insinuation of the blues," Giddens brought the star-studded audience to its feet. She was the talk of the lobby during intermission as those attendees unfamiliar with her Grammy Awardwinning work as a member of African-American folk interpreters Carolina Chocolate Drops wondered who exactly Rhiannon Giddens was, with her elegant bearing, prodigious voice, and fierce spirit.On her Nonesuch solo debut Tomorrow Is My Turn, Giddens and Burnett revisit "Water Boy," its Odetta-arranged work-song rhythm serving as both provocation and a statement of power. Giddens delivers an equally thunderous rendition, one made all the more striking when placed between a gentle, ruminative interpretation of Dolly Parton's "Don't Let It Trouble Your Mind" and a version of Hank Cochran's "She's Got You," popularized by Patsy Cline, that Giddens imbues with "an old-timey R&B vibe," abetted by Carolina Chocolate Drops band-mate Hubby Jenkins. The breadth of musical vision on Tomorrow Is My Turn fulfills the promise of that brief but stunning star turn at Town Hall. The album incorporates gospel, jazz, blues, and country, plus a hint of proto-rock and roll, and Giddens displays an emotional range to match her dazzling vocal prowess throughout.The life that Giddens explores at the climax of Tomorrow Is My Turn is her own creative one, on the lilting, self-penned ballad "Angel City." Though she regards herself far more as singer than songwriter, "Angel City," composed in the course of a single night during the recording of the Burnett-helmed The New Basement Tapes project, fits perfectly at the close of the set, gently paying homage to the elder artists whose work comprise the rest of the album. "It was these women, these artists, who had helped me, who had come with me on this journey, and here are lyrics that represented that."The songs here, says Giddens, "are all facets of the human condition." Taken together, they answer the question Twyla Tharp posed at the beginning of Giddens' solo adventure. Tomorrow Is My Turn is a composite portrait of "Ruby," of America, and of Giddens herself, whose turn is clearly right now.