Senior planning gap year mission trip

Traveling across the globe has become a bucket list norm that people intend to scratch off, yet some, never get the chance to actually do it. Senior Kat Wikner, is scratching off traveling from her list in the summer of 2018 and is taking a gap year with Adventures in Missions, World Race.

Wikner was inspired to take a gap year by recent graduates who have taken a gap year with World Race.

“I have always been interested in the program. My mom actually suggested a few years back that I look into taking a gap year. My parents feel the program ‘fits me’ and will be a good step,” she said.

Adventures in Missions is a huge organization that has several mission trips, such as World Race, that helps people get involved around the world and in other communities. Mission trips through this organization are for people of all ages that range from a few days to over a year in time.

At the end of summer 2017, Wikner said she still had no idea where she wanted to go to college and what she wanted to do; therefore, she started seriously considering taking a gap year and traveling.

“I knew that I wanted to go to college, but something else was missing I guess,” she said.

Once applications opened for the next year, Wikner said she told herself she needed to apply and sees what happened.

“I thought long and hard about it and definitely started to second guess myself,” she said. “Then, I got a call saying that I had been accepted and that was when I was sure that I wanted to do this.”

For nine months, starting in the summer of 2018, Wikner is traveling to Costa Rica, South Africa, Thailand and Myanmar where she will be doing mission work.

Fifty-five other teenagers, scattered across the country, will be joining Wikner in World Race.  Typical missions work activities that they will be involved include helping in churches, helping teach English in schools, volunteering in orphanages and getting to know the people in the communities in which they will be staying with.  Each day will have it’s own schedule and adventures.

“I’m not totally sure how traveling will affect me. I am 100 percent sure though that I will come home with a new perspective of what I consider to be home,” Wikner said.

This will not be Wikner’s first mission trip. In her last trips, she said she has learned a lot people of other cultures.

“I think that more often than not, in America, we are oblivious to the world around us,” she said. “We live lives in which we are only concerned about what is happening to us.”

Wikner said she feels that sometimes we often forget how fortunate we are to live in one of the most prosperous countries in the world.

“After spending nine months in second and third world countries, I think I will be more appreciative of what I have here,” Wikner said.

Fundraising is has become Wikner’s life. She has to raise $16,000.00 by December 2018.  Wikner will be selling T-shirts, bracelets and keychains.

Adventures in Missions sent those who applied a list of companies that have helped past racers raise money in order to attend and help. Wikner came across the company, Threads of Hope, and using this organization, 50 percent of Wikner’s profit will go to at-risk families and children in the Philippines. Having a close connection, Wikner’s little cousin was adopted from the Philippines and said it made her think of him and how selling bracelets can help kids that in are in similar situations that he was in.

“I’m very nervous, to be honest,” Wilner said. “It’s kind of intimidating to travel for nine months (and not be able to come home) with people you hardly know.”

Wikner has had short term experiences with traveling out of the country, the longest being out of the country for 10 days with family and a group of people from her church.

Horror stories have spiraled and landed into Wikner’s brain when thinking about her gap year. She said she is most frightened of being sick in the different countries because one never knows what can happen.

But, her overall feelings illustrate excitement to experience different cultures in a way she never has before. Wikner said she is also super pumped for the friendships that will be formed with her teammates.

The country Wikner is most excited about going to is South Africa.

“I’ve heard amazing things about it and have always been interested in it. I know that South Africa has some really big cities, and I’m excited to experience those as well as the rural areas.”

Wikner has also expressed how much she is going to learn, and said she cannot wait to experience everything that is to come her way by taking a gap year.

“I know that Jesus is working all around the globe, and I’m excited to see people’s lives be changed first hand. I’m also hoping to help people, but I’m sure the same people I am trying to help will help me grow as a person just as much,” she said.

Arriving back home in Iowa of June 2019, Wikner’s plan is to attend to University of Iowa starting in fall of 2019.

“But that’s kind of a long ways away, and I feel like I could always have a change of heart,” she said. “I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.”

Being 18 and an experienced world traveler was never in the books for Wikner, but she is making it a reality and is ready to see what the world has to offer.

The T-shirts she is selling are $25, round bracelets are $2 each or three for $5, flat bracelets are $4 or three for $10 and keychains are $5 or three for $12.  The best way to get in contact with Wikner to buy one of these products is text at (319)-242-1404 or email at

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