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Mind the Gap Year: Global Citizen Year Turns 18-Year-Olds into Future Leaders

Abby Falik wants a year abroad between high school and college to be as mainstream a pursuit as Teach for America.

While a gap year between high school and college may be popular among young people abroad, especially in the United Kingdom, the idea is far from the norm in the United States. That's a shame, given the importance of honing an international perspective in today's global economy. "It's still the case that the only opportunity for an 18-year-old to do global service in this country is through the military," says Abby Falik, who was turned away by the Peace Corps when she tried to serve after high school. "You need a college degree typically to join."

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Watch This Miraculous Video: Japanese Study Abroad Student Finds Family Survivors on YouTube

Thanks to YouTube, 20-year-old study abroad student Akiko Kosaka found her family.

Japanese students studying around the world are hoping that friends and loved ones in their homeland survived last week's 9.0 earthquake and the subsequent tsunami. Now thanks to a video posted onto YouTube, the hopes of one such student, 20-year-old Akiko Kosaka, have miraculously come true.

According to CNN, Kosaka's currently enrolled at the University of California at Riverside but she hails from Minami Sanriku, a fishing village devastated by the tsunami and missing over half of its 17,000 residents. After watching news reports over the weekend, she thought her family had been lost in the disaster. Fortunately a friend back in Japan texted her that there was video from her hometown on YouTube, and, even better, that Kosaka's older sister, 24-year-old Shoko was in the clip.

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