What is a Spiritual Autobiography Retreat?

Every Fall, students in our Global Gap Year go on a weekend retreat away from the city.  It is a weekend full of storytelling.  We walk through a booklet developed by Dave Meserve titled, ‘7 Stories’.  This retreat tends to be a highlight for each of our students as they learn more about themselves and their fellow gap students.  In this podcast, Dave talks with Luke about how he developed this impactful spiritual autobiography, what it consists of, and how it impacts those who go through it.

If you’d like more information about Dave and his non-profit, Urban Skye, you can check out his website, http://www.urbanskye.org/.

You can also contact him via email, dave@urbanskye.org.

Why So Long to Graduate College?

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times.  “Why take a Gap Year?  Doesn’t that just add years to finishing university?

I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but the current research shows that on average, today’s university students take 5-6 years to finish their undergraduate work.  But when compared to Gap Year Students who take 3-4 years, the message couldn’t be louder.

The idea that a Gap Year will add to a student’s tenure at institutional academy is just false.  The facts are there.  Our industry has done the research, and we’ve found some interesting new statistics that will help you decide if a Gap Year is right for you.

Join Luke and Andy on this week’s KIVU Gap Year Podcast, and listen to this new cutting edge research.

Spend a Semester in Santiago, Chile!


This episode is a fun introduction to life in Latin America with Director Josh Benjamin.  He shares with us about learning the language, food, and culture as a student in Santiago, Chile.  You can live in Latin America with our Global and Gap Semester programs in the Fall or Spring Semester!

For more information, check us out at the KIVU Gap Semester or KIVU Global Gap Year.

You can contact Josh Benjamin at josh@kivugapyear.com if you’d like to ask him more questions about life in Latin America in the KIVU Gap Year!

Special music by Chichí Peralta Título, “Me Enamoré” and Grupo La Noche, “Mal Amor”.


(Mis)understanding the Enneagram


The Enneagram is one of several tools we use in the KIVU Gap Year to help students increase in faith ownership and emotional intelligence.  However, in the past few years it has become very popularized in the United States.  With that popularity, there are many misunderstandings that come with interacting with this transformational tool.

Meet Millie Cline, a class instructor and spiritual director,  who carefully walks students through this tool from a spiritual lens.  She is a favorite amongst our students each year in the way she guides each individual towards a better understanding of themselves and God.  Tune in as she explains the Enneagram and dispels some of the myths and misunderstandings surrounding its usefulness in our daily lives.

If you’d like to reach out to Millie to learn more about Spiritual Direction, you can contact her at denvercline@yahoo.com.

6 Stepping Stones into Young Adulthood


How do young people intentionally transition from adolescence to young adulthood?  It wasn’t too long ago that this transition happened rather rapidly.  In a matter of only a few years, a child could assume adulthood.  Yet, today experts say it can take 10-15 years to make the transition.  Numerous factors contribute to this prolonging of arrival to adulthood.  Yet, it is as though the passage has moved from crossing a small creek bed to navigating a wide, rushing river.  At this point in time, it seems like our culture does not offer much guidance into how we grow and mature into healthy adults.  How do we cross this river now?  We graduate from high school and somehow hope to stumble into adult life by (A) completing college, (B) getting a full time job, (C) getting married, (D) having kids.  It’s as though we stand at the crossing of a raging river and are left to our own devices as to how we navigate to the other side.

This podcast takes you into ‘6 Stepping Stones’ of growth towards young adulthood.  Luke Parrott gives an overview of these critical areas of development that KIVU spends time developing over the course of the program.  Those 6 areas are:

  • Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
  • Cultural Competence (CQ)
  • Faith Ownership & Integration
  • Family & Belonging
  • Passion & Calling
  • Justice & Compassion

We believe these stepping stones give students a route across the ever widening river of transition to young adulthood.  By focusing on these 6 areas, our students can make their first decision after high school their best decision.  It also provides a great launching pad for students to enter college and life beyond in a more comprehensive and holistic way.  A gap year is about putting the right stepping stones in place to navigate across the waters of growing into adulthood.  We hope you enjoy this podcast!

How A Gap Year Changes Your Brain

What if a Gap Year actually had the added benefit of changing the neuro pathways in your brain?

That’s right.  New science is coming out showing that extensive travel and experience can literally change the way your synapses are connected.

In a recent Atlantic Article  neurologists talk about the importance of travel immersion as it relates to creative “neuro-plasticity.”

“In general, creativity is related to neuroplasticity, or how the brain is wired. Neural pathways are influenced by environment and habit, meaning they’re also sensitive to change: New sounds, smells, language, tastes, sensations, and sights spark different synapses in the brain and may have the potential to revitalize the mind.”

Another article in the Guardian gives a similar benefit.

Traveling and living abroad can also affect the way we interact with people. Research by Dr Julia Zimmermann and Dr Franz Neyer compared the personality development of a large sample of German university students who had studied abroad for at least one semester with a non-travelling group.

The results showed that those who studied abroad were generally higher in extraversion than those who chose not to travel during their studies: the travellers were likely to enjoy being around other people more than being alone. When they returned home after travelling, the participants also tended to show an increase in openness to new experiences, agreeableness and emotional stability.

Or if you’re looking for an empirical way to develop leadership, you can read this paper on travel and what it means to develop into a leader.  Neuroscienceofleadership_article_06207 copy

Overall, we believe the KIVU Gap Year is helping students emotionally, culturally, academically, and now BIOLOGICALLY to develop into the leaders for the future.

Listen in below to Andy and Luke talk about what it means to see creative brains develop.  Or you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes under The KIVU Gap Year.

Finding Your Passion and Calling


Vocare is a word we use at KIVU to describe where purpose and passion converge in our lives.  In this interview, Luke Parrott talks with Greg Fuchs about how the Denver program intentionally develops young adults in their passion and calling.

Learn how our program helps students identify their passions, avoid burnout, and open up space and time to be reflective leaders.

Learning the Power of Story


This week’s podcast features Josh Benjamin, our South America Director at KIVU Gap Year!  He walks us through the power of story in students lives and ways that we help them grow into a more healthy version of themselves.

Josh gives us a practical example of how we walks alongside students in his curriculum in South America.  Everyone has a story of value and worth.  So does yours!  Tune in today!

Three Questions for Parents

As we travel to explain the Gap Year concept, we find students understand the idea pretty quickly.  They have an un-tapped wanderlust they want to experience.  They understand academic burn out.  They know they want to explore the world in new ways.

But sometimes Parents have important questions for this relatively “new” industry.

In this week’s podcast, Andy Braner tries to answer the top three questions we get here at the KIVU Gap Year from Parents

  1. How is there such diversity among Gap Year costs?
  2. Is a Gap Year Safe?
  3. Will my student go back to College after returning from a Gap Year?

Feel free to listen in on some important answers here on the podcast.  OR, you can stay up to date on all The KIVU Gap Year podcasts by subscribing on iTunes.

The Link to the Podcast

Here is this week’s episode

The Gap Year and Emotional Intelligence

One of the most interesting effects of taking a Gap Year is what is referred to as Emotional Intelligence.  So why would you go to take a Gap Year to work on Emotional Intelligence?

Because according to Forbes.com, a student with a healthy emotional intelligence (EQ) can be the highest valued, highest paid employee in any particular company.

Listen here to Luke Parrott and Andy Braner talk about Emotional Intelligence on our new KIVU Gap Year Podcast.  Be sure to subscribe on iTunes so you won’t miss one episode.

What Is A Gap Year?

On our third podcast episode, Andy Braner talks about the reason for a Gap Year, and what makes the KIVU Gap Year stand out.

Today’s Students are struggling with vision, skill set, and comprehensive view of how to get their hands and feet dirty in almost every industry.  The Gap Year concept gives students the opportunity to choose internships on a variety of levels to develop an depth of experience.

Talk to any employer about hiring recent college graduates, and you’ll hear how difficult it is to teach and train academics with diplomas to migrate into the job market.  The Gap Year gives students a way to experience their vocational dreams, attend a higher institution of learning, and then focus on what it means to be a part of the industry of choice.

Take a few minutes and listen to Andy’s explanation of how The KIVU Gap Year is addressing the problems we’re seeing in student growth, both internally and in the job market.

The DNA of Our Faith

The KIVU Gap Year is one of the only international faith Gap Years acredited by the American Gap Association.  (AGA)  We often get questions about the faith DNA we help our students to think about, and we feel it’s important to distinguish between a “Christian” Gap Year, and a Gap Year that helps students understand how to own their own faith.

Our statement of faith is simple – It’s all about Jesus.

We invite students with all sorts of faith backgrounds to explore what it means to understand the principles and teachings of Jesus.  We don’t focus on any specific theology or doctrine.  We’re not a specific denominational Gap Year.  We’ve had atheists, agnostics, protestants, catholics, and all those in between join us on the journey around the world.

Our main focus is found in the gospel of Matthew, when Jesus was asked, ‘Jesus what is the greatest commandment?’ and he answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, and your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  The second is like it, Love your neighbor as yourself.”  (22:37-40)

Our main goal is to help students that are interested in faith, to see the main commandment of Loving God and Loving Others.  Jesus says, “All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.”

In our second Podcast Episode, you’ll hear Andy Braner and Luke Parrott talk about what it means to execute an organization that relies on Loving God and Loving Others.  Mainly, we want students to find Freedom in Faith.

You can listen to the discussion here, or you can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes under The KIVU Gap Year.

A History Of KIVU Gap Year

We’ve decided to enter the world of Podcasting here at The KIVU Gap Year.  As Podcasts have taken off in the last year or so, we are hearing from people around the country how important it would be to have a short 20-30 minute Podcast with interviews from our staff, our students, and various global leaders who interact with The KIVU Gap Year.

So … here it is.

Our first touch into the podcast world is a conversation with Luke Parrott and Andy Braner.  We tried to explain where KIVU started, what questions we’re trying to answer, and how important the Gap Year concept is to students today.

We hope this will be a place where you can find your questions answered, and if you don’t see the questions you have; feel free to contact us here, on our Facebook page, or in the comments on our Podcast on iTunes.

Thanks again for all your support.  We are excited to usher in a new way of thinking about education and global travel.