By Elena Villamagna
Honestly, I have big hopes for this year and what I will experience. The idea that I am centering my gap year around is female empowerment/feminine energy, which can take shape in many different forms. With that being the center, I have four many branches (or goals) that I want to work on:
I am already currently working towards my first goal. I have started the process of becoming Doula certified. So far, I have taken the in-person training as well as read a few of the required readings. Just this past weekend I observed my first birth which was an amazing experience and got my psyched for this year. I am hoping to finish the certification process as soon as possible, but definitely before the end of the gap year/start of the 2021–2022 school year. In addition to becoming and working as a doula, I will gain experience in natural birthing practices through the time I spend volunteering in Mexico with a maternal organization. I am hoping that the borders will open again so I can have that experience. I am also beginning to explore The Farm in Tennessee but have not made any plans to go there yet. The Farm is world-renowned for its midwifery care and natural birthing knowledge. So, I might try to fit that into my plans.
My goal to live more naturally will be achieved through my stay at farms. Here I will learn to grow food organically and in a sustainable way for the planet. I will be able to use that knowledge in the future to have my garden and reduce the amount of food I am buying from the stores, which rarely sell local produce. I have a farm stay lined up in Taos, New Mexico, and will be staying there for two months, and then in the new year, if we can travel internationally, I am hoping to go to a farm or work in some type of environmental conservation in Latin America.
Learning Spanish will be weaved into many aspects of my year, such as the possible farm stays in Latin America and also the birth work in Mexico. Right now, I am currently improving my Spanish through Duolingo, as well as volunteering for three different remote opportunities in Spanish. With Adopt a Nursing Home, I am writing letters in Spanish to people in a nursing home in Texas and will soon have a long-term pen pal. With Love Volunteers (who I would be going to Mexico with), I am helping translate letters from kids to their sponsors. With Learning Ally, I am helping with audiobook production for Spanish textbooks. I want to become fluent in Spanish this year, I already have a good foundation from doing up to Spanish 6 in school, however, I think I need the full emersion to truly pick it up.
Gaining more knowledge about Indigenous cultures will also be weaved into my year. New Mexico has a big Native American population and the farm tries to incorporate indigenous methods. While I am there, I will be able to visit different sites and learn more about the Native American culture in that part of the U.S. While in Mexico, the maternal organization I am working with has a mission to help preserve Indigenous birthing practices and traditions. So, while I am there, I will be able to learn a lot about their birthing culture.
Overall, I am very excited about the year ahead of me and all of the new things I will be learning.
(Photo citations in order: https://essentialearthholistic.com/pages/doula-services , Photo By: LittleBunnySunshine, Photo By: CityCraftery, https://twitter.com/IndigWomenLead/status/1042099581452922880)