Why a family gap year?

Over the past 20 years, during our dreamy “what-if?” conversations, James and I have often talked about living outside the U.S. and travelling internationally. We wanted our kids to develop a broader perspective by experiencing life outside our privileged Bay Area bubble, and we wanted to show them some of the amazing things in the world that we were lucky enough to see when we travelled before we had kids. And of course, selfishly, we ourselves wanted to see more of the world. 

But we never got serious about it. It was never “the right time.” When the kids were toddlers, everything was a blur; we were just keeping our heads above water. Then the kids were enrolled in a great K-8 school. Through it all, I was (and still am) passionate about the work I was doing to improve public schools and teach social entrepreneurship. We had momentum, or maybe inertia, living our lives according to more-or-less the typical go-to-work+be-a-parent patterns. 

To be honest, now isn’t necessarily a great time either. COVID surges will probably mean we may not be able to see everything we want to. For an education entrepreneur, stepping away from work right now is really hard: the disruption to public education created by COVID also has created once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to build new, more equitable, more effective education systems. But last year, I watched my mom slide further into dementia, and had surgery to remove non-invasive breast cancer – in addition to experiencing the global pandemic. All were potent reminders: every moment is precious. And so we decided, let’s do it now, while we still can, physically and mentally. So here we are…!

 Attempt at an artistic photo, suitable for Instagram or a holiday card

One thought on “Why a family gap year?

  1. Awesome photo of you all on the giant driftwood!! Its beauty is only intensified by its creativity.
    I also loved your explanation of why you’re taking this “gap year” and how you convinced your kids to go along with the plan. Good luck on the challenge… Hope James’ finger is healing after crushing it.


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