Katie Runs the World

Gap years are good for making you feel both powerful and powerless, big and small, in control and at the utter mercy of the world spinning around you. Life does that to us regardless, but gap years do it in a special way.

After years of structure imposed by a bigger power, whether that was parents or school, the summer after graduating UWC Diljan I suddenly found myself looking at the blank canvas of the coming year, with, for once, nothing I had to do.

I had ideas of course - I like to plan, and I spent a good deal of my study leave before the IB exams googling flights and making travel schedules for my gap year (oops).

But as things usually go, everything turned out differently than I’d planned it. I needed a job before I could pay for my traveling adventures - so I worked as a tutor for about 5 months, and as an assistant to the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Department in a British School in Moscow. The latter is what began to shape my gap year, and inadvertantly, this year began to center around education.

One goal I set for myself this year was to run a half marathon, since I missed last year’s one in Yerevan, spending some quality time in Nairi Hospital instead. I did that earlier than expected, in autumn, and a marathon was the natural next step. But instead of picking an ordinary one, I heard about the Great Wall Marathon in China in May and decided that’s what I wanted to do.

That’s when the two (unplanned) parts of my gap year- running and education - joined together. I thought if I was going to go for this crazy marathon I wanted to run to fundraise for a school called Kovcheg (the Ark) in Moscow, that was the first, and remains one of the only schools in Russia to comprehensively support inclusive education.

The last few months have been full of writing letters to sponsors, training, and fundraising - all of which have held many bitter disappointments, but have also made "The Inclusive Education Project" a reality, and the result of countless people’s help and support. Now, with about a month to go until the marathon, I’ve learned a couple golden rules, sometimes you need to embrace the pain for good things to happen, and plans are absolutely made to be broken.

Read more about Katya's adventure on the website dedicated to her venture: https://www.katyarunstheworld.com.