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Gap Year

An inspiring gap year

Chrissie Stockting, 22, graduated from Southampton University last year with a degree in music. Earlier this year, she became a Raleigh International Venturer in a team of 120 volunteers and spent 10 weeks in Tampasak, a small village in Malaysian Borneo. She tells us why ‘potential employers are noticeably impressed’ by her time off.

Our project was to build a kindergarten from scratch in a fairly poor village that has only a limited electricity supply. By the time I and the rest of my team flew home, having also done some trekking through the Borneo jungle which was quite an experience in itself, all the work was completed, the murals were on the walls and the teachers and helpers were ready to receive the first children.

I found the whole project really satisfying. I’ve known for a long time that I want to be a music therapist, but going to Borneo has really pushed up my motivation and confidence levels and my determination to build a career. Although I felt homesick for my family, I made some really good friends who I have stayed in touch with. One of them was another musician – we wrote songs and played together – and, given that we had such different backgrounds, I found we all worked really well together.

The people in Tampasak have their own ways of making music – at church mostly, but also via a band with electric guitar, bass guitar and drums. They weren’t that great technically, but their enthusiasm really made up for it. I’m looking for work as a care assistant at the moment, so I can get some hands-on experience in music therapy among children or the elderly, and it’s noticeable how impressed potential employers are with my Borneo experience. Between the job-hunting though, I want to volunteer again as soon as I can. This time, it’ll be South America and I want to go as project leader.