We are thrilled and honored to be back as keynote speakers for the USA Gap Year Fairs for our 10th year in a row. For 2 months we join gap year programs and counselors to travel the country – nearly 40 events in 40 cities – to educate families about the gap year. It’s an exhausting and exhilarating time, and an absolute highlight of our year. During these travels we meet thousands of families, and get asked all kinds of questions, not all of which are gap year related! Rather than address the typical gap year questions about our backgrounds and our services, we thought it would be fun to answer your infrequently asked questions!
Q: What’s your favorite US city on the circuit?
Jane: There is no way I can choose just one! We have great friends and family members in nearly every city where we speak, so each city feels special because we get to see those wonderful people (who also know all of the local ins and outs!) Still, for the combination of friends + family + food + culture + outdoor adventure I’d have to say Charlotte, Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Boulder. Not sure I can limit that list much further!
Q: How do you stay healthy when you are traveling for work?
Jason: As a trail runner who averages 40 miles a week, it’s really important for me to get some miles underfoot whenever and wherever I travel. First I look on google maps for open green spaces, and then I prioritize booking my hotels near those. I keep track of my runs on Strava so it gets easier every year when I return to a city. On big travel days I always make sure my water bottle is full so I can stay hydrated, and I try to eat well – I may or may not have the apps for Whole Foods and Chipotle on my phone.
Q: Do you get nervous speaking to a large audience? Do you have any tips?
Jane: If you told me when I was in high school that I would confidently speak to an audience of 500 I would never have believed you! My passion and knowledge of the subject (gap year) absolutely fuels my fire, and once I get started – even if I have given the same or similar presentation 100 times – I am always able to tap into a very real sense of enthusiasm and authenticity. I think it’s critical to show up unapologetically as ourselves, and not who we think the audience wants us to be. You will always feel most confident in your own skin! Oh, and don’t be afraid to pause or laugh at the unexpected phone ring, technical difficulty or lost train of thought mid-presentation; I find I am often at my best when I can simply shrug my shoulders with a smile at an unexpected mishap, and keep rolling!
Q: After 10 years with the gap year fairs, does anything still surprise you?
Jason: How hard it is saying goodbye to the other road warriors! Traveling with the USA Gap Year Fairs is almost like being part of a mini-gap program. We develop close relationships with each other, have inside jokes, share some meals, and bond in a certain way that only this group can understand. It’s a stellar group of people with some very shared values around travel and education, so while happy to go home, I am always a little sad to see the season end.