Last week, we had our first campus/college visit here in Denver! It is a great time for students to come and look at the program in person, meet students, and sit in on ‘class’ and internship experiences!
Schedule a weekend this Fall to come and visit us! You can even include college visits to the surrounding universities in the area such as University of Colorado, Colorado State University, University of Denver, & Colorado Christian University! Contact Emily, firstname.lastname@example.org to book your trip!
We have also started interviewing prospective students for the class of 2017-2018! Get started on your application process today! Here is a bit of what the process looks like:
Request your application TODAY at email@example.com!
Students arrive to Orientation Week filled with this odd mixture of great excitement and strong anxiousness. There is an excitement to travel and see the world. There is an energy behind leaving the fold and venturing into the unknown. But there is also this nagging feeling that this is the biggest mistake ever made. Doubt is lingering as students wonder whether the friends they travel with and the people and places they go to around the world is really the best thing for them.
But the last 80 students that have come through the program have taught me what the story of the next 8 months will be like for almost every student:
They quickly find commonality and camaraderie amongst one another.
They arrive to the first destination with those same mixed emotions.
They fall in love with their first destination.
They hit walls. They struggle. They have to do some hard inner work.
They begin to blossom.
They begin to mature.
They begin to grow.
Our students wrestle through peaks and valleys all year as they live in home stays, work at internship sites, go on adventures, and have mountain top experiences. Their social media sites have a hard time capturing the ups and downs that cause the growth and maturity throughout their gap year. (You don’t pull out a camera or write a blog post when you are having a hard day or find yourself shedding a lot of tears.)
At the end of the year, many students will say, a gap year with Kivu doesn’t make you feel changed upon its completion in so much as it allows you to step more freely into your true self. The students were given the freedom to go and discover who they are, what they believe, where they belong, and how they fit in to this global village in which we find ourselves.
That discovery is what the gap year journey is all about. Indeed, it is a journey. A slow process of transformation that is always mixed with emotions that capture the thrill and anxiety of every moment.
“Violence in the developing world is like grief in the developed world—it’s everywhere, but we just don’t see it.” –Gary Haugen The Locust Effect
This past spring Gap Year took me to Huánuco, Peru to live with a local family and volunteer at a shelter for young sexual abuse victims called Paz y Esperanza.
As odd as this sounds, the initial days at Paz felt a lot like scrolling through Netflix choices. For the record, I’m a Netflix documentary fiend. I love any social justice exposé—anything that teaches me about a little known topic and begs an untried passion. I could watch a new documentary every day of the week. The only downside to that is the miniature existential crisis I typically fall into after each film. “I’ve been living in a world of lies!” or “I am personally responsible for ending (insert social justice issue here)!” are some of the overly dramatic thoughts that run through my mind as the credits roll. In the past, I’ve been convinced to stop buying from H&M and to never again eat Tyson’s chicken. I’ve decided before that I want to be a slam poet, to build my own tiny home, and to boycott wearing bras. To whatever degree, a well-made social justice documentary almost always moves me to action.
Some nights, though, I don’t feel like getting off my comfortable mental couch. Some nights I’d prefer to just not care about anything other than my own life. Those are the nights that my cursor hovers over the “Play Now” button contemplating whether or not I should commit to two hours of perspective-shifting interviews and undercover footage. In my mind, to click play means to be told I’m wrong about something I’ve always thought. To click play means to rethink how I’m living. To click play means to ask questions that I might not like the answers to.
When I got to Paz, I knew immediately that I was about to be exposed to a kind of pain and injustice that I’d never experienced before. There were around 40 girls who had been attacked, abused, and taken advantage of by the people who were supposed to be looking out for them—by their neighbors, cousins, friends, and fathers. For my first few days at Paz, my cursor was over the “Play Now” button, scared to get started and have my world rocked. I saw the hard work that the full-time volunteers at the shelter were doing. I saw the gentle way they took care of the girls, and I heard how they fiercely told the stories of each girl’s abuse. They were full of love for these girls, full of frustration for a culture of exploitation, and full of ambition to restore lives and stop the cycle of abuse. I had seen the trailer for the film, and I wasn’t sure if I was strong enough to press play. I couldn’t bring myself to engage and to feel.
As the days passed and as my really broken Spanish became slightly less broken, I was able to build relationships with the girls. It started with painting nails and playing volleyball and eventually turned into honest conversations about past pains and future aspirations. Before I knew it, I turned back to my laptop screen and the film was rolling. The girls had pressed play for me, and I was all in.
I think many volunteers all over the world have experienced this same phenomenon: they arrive in a new place with no prior knowledge of the culture or the social justice issues. They have nothing but a heart to serve and see. As time passes, the volunteers form friendships with the people they are serving, with the victims of some injustice. These friendships invoke compassion, which in turn, incites passion for the cause that affects their new friend. Pure, sustainable “passion” for a cause, I believe, comes only from compassion founded in relationships. The girls at Paz were able to give that kind of passion to me.
As my time at Paz came to an end, the credits rolled, and you guessed it. I was moved to action. I wondered how I could continue to be a part of the work of justice and combatting sexual violence in Peru while stateside. That’s when I applied and was selected for an internship in Washington, D.C. to work with a large NGO called International Justice Mission, which has a casework alliance with Paz y Esperanza.
IJM is an international human rights organization mobilized by the terrible truth that daily acts of violence against the poor and marginalized are perpetuating poverty worldwide. An endless cycle of abuse and impunity is keeping the poor in poverty and perpetrators on the streets. IJM is called to action by the somber facts that 1 in 5 women in the world will be victims of rape or attempted rape in their lifetime and that 4 billion people on the planet live in a state of “lawlessness”. Laws are not enforced, so perpetrators continue to abuse and exploit. In Bolivia, for example, it is more likely for a rapist to slip and fall and die in the bathtub than it is for him to ever be convicted of his crimes.
IJM has 17 field offices around the world largely run by local nationals that execute a 4-fold plan to combat this violent reality. 1. We work with local law enforcement to rescue victims of violence, like rape, forced labor, and sex trafficking. 2. We train local police, judges, and prosecutors to convict the perpetrators of violence. 3. We partner with local aftercare facilities to restore the victims and meet their needs. 4. We strengthen local justice systems to end impunity. Paz y Esperanza is one of those field offices, and when I was in Huánuco this spring, I was helping to “restore the victims”. At the headquarters in DC this summer, I am able to see the full, 4-fold mission. I’m able to see one way that people in the United States—people with freedom and protection under the law—are fighting to see justice for those you don’t yet have it.
When I first recognized my compassion for the girls at Paz, I knew that the things I learned on my gap year weren’t supposed to just stay there locked in time. I wasn’t meant to have my eyes ripped wide open to systematic injustice and societal poverty just to return to the same life trajectory and career path that one-year-ago me wanted. Those 9 months were a time of immersion, engagement, and growth. I engaged in the cultures and systems at play, taking in all that could and processing it in light of what I believe love and equality should look like. I watched the best film I’ve ever seen play on a giant screen all around me. And now, I’m figuring out how to log out of Netflix, get up off the couch, and do something about it.
I was in Boston at the annual American Gap Association conference, where the question was posed to us, “What do you think are the necessary ingredients for a high quality gap year experience?”
After spending time with over 40 gap year providers, working on our accreditation process with AGA, and spending 1,000’s of hours with our students and their parents, I think I can boil it down to 3 critical ingredients for a flavorful gap year.
Any experiential learning based program has to account for the inherent risk involved in such an experience. After 15 years of outdoor adventure camping, 10 years of international travel programming, and 6 years of gap year planning, we have developed a highly sophisticated model of risk assessment and crisis response.
Safety can never be a promise from any program provider. But a culture of responsibility, foresight, monitoring, and evaluation can be the best preventative to account for a student’s care while on a gap year. I believe Kivu Gap Year has a thorough plan for welcoming students into environments that push them outside their comfort zone, but not into dangerous or irresponsible situations. From registering with the US Embassy, to having international insurance coverage, to having effective orientations, to maintaining thoughtful relationships in these local communities, we are confident that a student can experience the stress and challenge of life in an unfamiliar place with responsible assessment of risk.
When the gap year concept caught wind here in the United States, there was a particular need amongst both parents and students to ensure it did not become a year of partying around the world. Both parents and students wanted a purposeful experience. With that purpose comes structure.
Kivu Gap Year structures the learning experience around home stays, internships, cultural events, teaching in the field, mentorship, and cohort support. We believe these 6 areas provide a meaningful program for students to gain purpose and discover their passions while traveling. Our students log up to 900 internship hours working with multiple organizational cultures. They have to learn to navigate duties and responsibilities alongside cultural nuances and language barriers. They have to accept where their limitations are and have to learn to contribute where they are able inside an organization. The uncomfortableness of these environments pushes them towards growth outcomes we have come to recognize as patterns in our alumni.
After several years of gap year programming, people often asked our Kivu staff and students, “what did you get out of that experience?” Our alumni quickly found how difficult it is to wrap your words around such powerful experiences and stories captured on a gap year. So we launched an internal Impact Assessment in May of 2015 in order to find out from our alumni, “What did you learn from participating in the Kivu Gap Year?”
Through personal interviews and general surveys, we found 6 Core Competencies our students were developing. What our students talked about more than anything else was the developing of their Emotional Intelligence or EQ. (See article The Most Significant Growth Component). Students also vocalized growth in Cultural Intelligence (CQ) as well as Faith Ownership. Since the uniqueness of our program is to provide faith-based students with a space to process their spiritual development, we saw this feedback as a critical component of our program values in helping emerging young adults own what it is they believe.
These 3 areas of Safety, Structure, and Outcome are my ingredients to a great gap year! If you can find a provider that is able to effectively articulate this recipe to their programs, you should be confident that your investment into a gap year is more than worth the while. If you are designing your own independent gap year, these 3 components will suit you well. Know that the year won’t be easy. It will certainly be full of peaks and valleys. But the growth that comes from living in this ‘stretch zone‘ is what makes a gap year what it is!
A new study has been released this week indicating students who take a gap year have a median time to graduation of 3.75 years (for a 4 year degree). This research is encouraging towards those who desire to see a gap year investment pay off on the back end of higher education.
When you compare this statistic to the latest indication that 40% of college students never complete their degree and the other 60% take 5-6 years to graduate, there is encouraging news towards progress in higher learning completion. Gap years are doing the job of sharpening students to be resilient and focused when they reach their undergraduate studies.
More and more students and their parents are willing to take a risk and make bolder investments on the front end of their traditional education path in order to see greater rewards after college.
The study also reveals:
• Gap Year graduates are almost twice as likely to vote in national elections.
• 89% reported participating in community service in the last month.
• 83% of respondents indicated a GPA of 3.0 or higher. 42% reported a GPA of 3.7 (or higher).
• 86% indicated they were satisfied or very satisfied with their jobs.
The gap year investment is one which continues to give back as a student progresses through the education system and looks for job placement and satisfaction thereafter.
Over the last six years, we’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work with families from all over America looking for a Gap Year. Usually, students are the first on board, trying to sell the idea to parents. So many of our conversations are with parents who are asking important questions about this new trend. I’ll attempt to give 5 GREAT questions parents are asking. Maybe, on your search, you are asking the same ones.
1. Will my Student Forget How to Learn?
One of the first concerns we see with our prospective parents goes something like If my student takes a year off, will they ever return to college?
Of course there are those who feel like you just need to keep trucking along through the education system. It’s safe. It’s what everyone else is doing. It seems like a protective way to make sure your student goes to University and finishes. But the reality of the situation is quite the opposite.
According to the Center for Education Statistics, of all the Freshman entering the University system in the fall, only 59% will actually finish their degree in four years. That means over 40% of students who enter University actually drop out and forget how to learn. There are plenty of reasons why, but a Gap Year shouldn’t detour you from thinking your student can still be successful at the University level. In fact, we see 100% of our students who have completed The KIVU Gap Year go on to University.
2. Will My Student be Safe?
Being a father of five children myself, I know our kids are THE MOST IMPORTANT part of our family unit. We’ve spent the last 18 years preparing them for this moment. So, if I send them off to a Gap Year, isn’t that just sending them to the wolves?
Contrary to our intuition, safety is something we can only mitigate. We can’t control it. Even though we feel like sending our kids off to University is “safe” just read through the articles on University Sexual Assault, University Party Life, and just recently at The University of Texas a young girl was murdered by a 17 year old boy.
At The KIVU Gap Year, we take safety VERY SERIOUSLY. We don’t have any intention of being on the front news story cycle by being negligent. We have the same concerns you might have about the safety of your kids.
In our program, we don’t send students anywhere our staff hasn’t been before.
We only send our students to places where we have strong relationships with the host partners.
We send staff on the ground to help students navigate the different locations.
AND, we are connected to The State Department, The U.S. Congress, and other organizations in and around the area.
Can a gap year promise 100% safety? Of course not. Just like the University can’t promise your student is going to be safe on campus. Risk and safety are matters of mitigation. I believe we do a great job mitigating the risks students may face, and helping educate them on being safe while in the program.
3. Will I be Able to Talk With My Student on a Gap Year?
In a world where the internet has basically revolutionized the way all countries exist, the locations we send students to all have internet access. Many of the locations are supported by the major cell phone carriers, and can be accessed right from the palm of your students hand.
If anything, our role is to help the family understand how to allow students to be present in their internships. In today’s world, constant texting, phone calling, and video calls reign. A Gap Year can be a vehicle to help teach students when it’s proper to use those wonderful communication tools, and how parents might also engage while students are learning how to be on their own.
4. Why do you think a Gap Year is necessary?
Personally, I believe the Gap Year concept is the latest stab at an education revolution. For the first 18 years of a student’s life, we primarily focus on their regurgitation of information, but in reality; what we’re getting on the back end is someone who knows facts and figures without proper experiences.
A Gap Year can provide experiences for students to take with them to marry theory to reality.
One way this worked out in my life was in foreign language.
I took 8 years of Spanish in the classroom, and when I went to study in Monterrey Mexico at an international university, I couldn’t understand hardly a word. The practical Spanish was void from my education. Ask me to write a paper in proper Spanish, I was set. But ask me to talk on the street…No chance.
Think about all the potential practical opportunities a student has when they live in a community in a foreign country. Language, business, philosophy, structure; they all play into the future learning a student might have in their vocation.
I believe Gap Year’s will be necessary requirements for students going to University in the future, and we’re already seeing the Tier 1 Schools start migrating that way. It may be a luxury today, but wait 5 years and you’ll see it necessary for the admissions to your chosen school.
5. Tell me about KIVU’s version of Faith? Is that central for the Gap Year Students?
As we started the KIVU Gap Year, one of the central core values we bring to the table is an exploration of spiritual development. We believe in the God written about in the Bible. We believe in the moral Kingdom the Bible Speaks of. We are Jesus centric. We believe in the message and teachings of Jesus, and we try to operate in a way congruent with the way Jesus might. (We teach students how to Love God and Love Others Matthew 22:37-40)
With that being said, we want to afford opportunities for a wide variety of faith traditions to engage with our program. We believe the values, the experiences, and the community development piece can happen whether someone believes what we believe or not.
So the short answer is, YES! The KIVU Gap Year is a Jesus centric program. We explore what it means to live in a world with a strong faith component with evidence that looks like much of the Sermon on the Mount found in the Bible in Matthew 5-7.
What we don’t want to become is a place that reduces faith down to simply information. We don’t have official spiritual curriculum. We don’t force students to go to church. We don’t tell students they have to believe one way or the other. We want students to explore their own faith, giving them opportunities to come to a realization of critical faith growth on their own.
Today over 80% of Christian students (those raised in Christian homes) who enter University actually reject their faith by the end of their first year. Again, there’s a lot of reasons why. But primarily we are seeing a group of students raised in a Christian environment with all the promise of being successful, and yet they fail.
So we can continue doing the same programs we’re doing in order to see the same results, OR we can have an environment full of Jesus principles where students can find their faith in the context of global discovery.
We would love to explore more questions with you, and we hope to have the chance. Stay tuned for more information on The KIVU Gap Year as we round out the class of 2015-16 and prepare for our next class in the fall.
Sometimes people ask us, “What kind of student are you looking for?”
Take this inventory and see if you are asking some of the same questions as our students.
(1) Are you tired of sitting in the classroom and a bit burned out on academics?
(2) Are you uncertain about what to focus your studies in college?
(3) Do you have an itch to see the world for yourself?
(4) Do you want to strengthen your faith or wrestle with what it is you really believe?
(5) Are you adventurous?
(6) Do you want to learn more about yourself, who you are, and what your passions are?
(7) Do you want to immerse yourself in other cultures, live in home stays, and learn what it is really like to live abroad?
(8) Are you looking for a strong community of like-minded peers?
(9) Do you want to focus on internship experiences during your gap year?
(10) Are you ready to take a leap of faith and get out of your comfort zone?
If you answered YES to any of these questions, you are probably looking in the right direction at Kivu. These 10 questions reflect some of the most common reasons our students tend to choose a gap year with Kivu. If you are considering a gap year, we highly encourage you to take active steps towards making it happen. Request an application from us today. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org TODAY!
When we launched the Kivu Gap Year in 2009, the most often asked question was “what is a gap year?” Today, when we travel and meet prospective students and parents, the most common question is “What are the results of the gap year for your graduating students?”
When I would ask our alumni this question, it was always overwhelming to them. The question was simply too big to tackle. Where do you start and how do you give language to an 8 month global journey around the world? So when I launched an Impact Assessment on our past alumni last spring of 2015, the goal was to see if (1) students had any correlations with what they learned in our program and (2) to see if I could help them provide unified language to articulate the experience.
Through interviews and questionnaires, I came to discover 6 areas of general interest:
Socio-Emotional Competence-How we relate to and manage ourselves and our relationship to others.
Cultural Competence–How we adapt (or fail to adapt) to culturally diverse environments.
Faith Ownership & Integration–How we make our faith our own (rather than that of our parents) and include this value in every aspect of our lives (rather than compartmentalizing it).
Family & Belonging–How we value our nuclear family and our connectedness to global humanity.
Justice & Compassion–Developing the eyes to see and the ears to hear voices on the margins, to enter their pain, and stand in solidarity with them.
Passion & Calling–Giving space to hear our vocation and to embrace the beauty of being made in God’s image.
What is even more surprising is how interdependent these 6 areas of growth were with one another. Students would freely flow in and out of conversation with how one aspect informed the other. I came to understand this to mean all 6 of these ‘Core Competencies’ were building off one another. In a program filled with internships, home stays, weekly cultural events, instructional ‘class’ time, on-going mentorship, and the influence of fellow gap students, it is a perfect recipe to see God work in amazing and surprising ways in each heart and life.
Traditional higher education is giving students the information they need to succeed in the real world. But a non-traditional education, like a gap year, can effectively supplement higher learning with the ‘intangibles’ necessary to grow into young adulthood. At Kivu Gap Year, our students are able to work on the development of the whole person. We are able to equip students with the soft skills and the real world experience (900 hours of internship work) to empower them to lead in their careers, in their future families, and in their faith communities.
We are developing young leaders who have confidence in their own voice. With this confidence, students can enter (or re-enter) university life with a sharp focus, a wealth of experience, and a humility and passion to further their learning.
Last year, I spent time with our last 5 years of alumni conducting interviews and questionnaires to investigate the question, “what do students learn from participating in our gap year program?” While I found several consistent correlations in student growth, the one thing almost everyone wanted to talk about was how much they learned about growing in self-awareness.
Academics refer to it as socio-emotional competence. Or perhaps you’ve heard of the importance of developing your EQ (emotional intelligence). EQ is about learning more of who we are, how we are wired, and how we relate to others in the process. Socrates called on his students to ‘know thyself’. For followers of Jesus, we know that each human being is made in the image of God and fashioned in his likeness. So it is critical that we know the uniqueness of our created design.
When I asked one student about the most significant change experienced in the program, she said, “Right away I would say personal growth and just understanding who I am. Learning the ways I’ve been uniquely wired and gifted…I think I left gap year with more of a sense of confidence in myself, my gifts, and my passions. And confidence in Jesus. Definitely, that would be a huge one.” Another student shared, “They did a very good job of teaching me more about who I was. What makes me tick. What encourages me and discourages me. What I am passionate about. Through learning more about my personality I feel like I can better handle challenges. I know that this is going to be a hard time. I know how to take care of myself.”Students also captured this aspect of growth with words and phrases like “confidence”, “sure of self”, “knowing who God created me to be”, “more mature”, “taking care of myself”, “equipping yourself”, “understanding yourself”, “understanding who I am”, “reformed my identity”.
Emerging adulthood is a critical time period for students (ages 18-25) to work on the establishment of their personal identity. They are asking at a very deep level, “Who am I?”. The exploration of this question helps students gain direction for their future. We use the word ‘vocation’ a lot in our program. From its latin root, it actually translates to ‘voice’ or ‘calling’. We are dedicated to helping students find their voice during their year with us because this is a critical stage for such growth to take place.
Our program facilitates numerous ways of allowing students to explore who they are. We provide formal training with devices like Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, Relational Needs Training, and further exercises in self-reflection, journaling, and blogging. But we also encourage students to go out and do stuff, to intern in multiple new environments, to live in local home stays, to experience the world, and see what passions come to life. Our students spend nearly 900 hours in internship experiences. Through the relationships they build in these experiences, they come to realizations of their unique design and giftedness. Experiential learning is one of the best ways to discover one’s own voice.
If you want to know the #1 benefit of taking a gap year with Kivu, our alumni will tell you it is that critical component of honing in on personal identity or self-awareness. It is about taking time to stare in the face the daunting question, “Who am I?”. From a deeper understanding of who we are, we can be free to explore the hard questions of what we should do, what degree we should have, what we believe about our faith, and what career to pursue in the future.
But without direction, college students today are left wandering through degrees that carry no meaning. The result has been wasted tuition dollars on 5 to 6 year undergraduate studies with a mere 60% undergraduate completion rate!
How can one pursue a degree without the backbone of direction before completing college?
While searching for a Gap Year, it can be kind of like walking into a huge department store trying to find a specific item for your home. There’s so many places to look, so many differences to set different gap years apart, and whose to say you’re going to have the “right” program for your student?
At The KIVU Gap Year, we try to help our parents and students understand some of the differences we hold in our value system to prepare emerging adults to enter University.
Four CRITICAL QUESTIONS IN OUR PROGRAM AS EMERGING YOUNG ADULTS.
1. Personal Identity: Who Am I? – We give you the tools and experiences to encourage the development of your personal identity.
The old way of talking about Who am I was to say a student would go and “find themselves.” And many academic circles tried to minimalize this experiencing often citing the need for students to just jump into life straight from high school and they will figure it out.
But after 20 years of working with young adults, we’re finding some interesting generational differences in today’s young person.
a.) After University, work becomes the epicenter of their life. They get lost in the drive for their Vocation, and we see students who are in their late 20’s asking questions about Who they are not necessarily What they do. We’re finding a large group of young adults asking questions we can help them navigate through their higher education which presumably leads to a more fulfilling vocational experience.
b.) We find more and more University graduates unwilling and unable to enter the workforce after their higher education training, and we want to help students achieve the courageous brave life to go out and conquer whatever it is they feel called to do. The problem is: if we just hope students find their way without any help or mentoring, often it takes years to find out who they are and emerge from what they can produce.
2. Faith Ownership: What Do I Believe? – We provide an experience in which you have the space, freedom and opportunity to embrace your faith.
Most Gap Years will fall on two extremes of a paradigm shift. Either they will a.) Bring students into an incubation environment to tell them what to think or they will b.) Leave faith out of the conversation entirely.
We believe a faith journey is one that is individual.
We believe faith is an important part of being a whole person.
We believe experiential faith education is more impactful than sitting in a classroom taking notes, submitting papers, and memorizing various scripture passages.
We believe asking questions will lead a student to their answer.
Because we believe God works in different ways in everyone’s life.
We intentionally give students an environment to explore their faith. They ask good questions. We’re not afraid of any doubts, because we believe on an honest journey students will find their faith way. With qualified staff leading and guiding discussions, we are excited when students graduate to be excited about faith in a global community.
3. Experiential Learning: How Do I Fit In? – We provide an experiential learning environment to counter balance traditional education models.
So many students today are lost in how they connect with the world around them. They’re able to engage online, but interpersonal connection is often difficult. We’ve trained a generation of students to care more about the number of “likes” and “followers” on a social media feed, but we haven’t given them a fertile platform to explore ideas, disagree in a civil way, and engage with people who are different than they are.
Our Emotional Intelligence scale reveals that the KIVU Gap Year can increase the way students engage emotionally by living abroad to the tune of nearly a 30% increase. The EI scale we use to test students is showing our kids able to navigate the traditional education model and still have a sense of fitting into their environment.
4. Civic Engagement: Where Do I Belong? – We provide concrete experiences in understanding domestic and international social issues to encourage you to develop communal identity.
If you ask the question What is the biggest issue with post-secondary students today? You’ll find quickly the answer is I’m Alone.
They don’t know where they connect.
They don’t know who they belong to.
They don’t understand community is something to sacrifice for
They haven’t been given the wide kaleidoscope of global world views to understand themselves.
At The KIVU Gap Year, we are committed to helping students understand how they belong in a wide globalized world, preparing them for Higher Education.
As the world continues to get smaller through our intentional technology revolution, students are going to be hard pressed to connect with different cultures, different world views, and the ability to connect with different thought processes.
There’s little debate concerning the globalization of today’s companies. Most of the top U.S. companies have a footprint of business, education, or at the very least a social impact on different countries around the world.
In today’s Secondary Education climate, very few of our students are being exposed to the ways to form successful small groups where the diversity of culture has to be addressed to actually accomplish a common goal.
On the KIVU Gap Year, we have taken the task of exposing students to various cultures both here in America, and across the world.
Our student shave the chance to stay with local families in foreign countries. Whether they have a stay in Africa, Peru, Bolivia, or the Jordan, students have the chance to learn cultural diversity to give them a chance to understand future potential cultural relationships no matter where they intend on spending their vocational time. Our intent is to help students understand what it means to deal with different expectations dependent on cultural diversity, and we’re actually seeing their worlds get smaller and smaller.
They are able to talk about politics, social differences, and see opportunities to connect America to different parts of the world. This is vital as we see a generation of students whose world continues to shrink as they forge ahead to live and work in places with high degrees of cultural diversity.
Different World Views
It’s safe to say with 7 Billion people on planet earth, there are almost as many different world views students need to learn how to navigate. Values that matter include…
Where they were born
What values were important to their families
What faith components they believe in
What social values are high on the list of their world
Each way our environment speaks into who we are dictates what lens we see the world through. Traditionally, America has a reputation of seeing the world through the lens of the last great super power. So the questions begin to rise quickly to the surface
What is my role in the world as an American Citizen? How do I interact with other countries and how they see the world? What is my role in understanding someone else’s world view, and being able to value my own way of thinking?
As more and more students are leaving home to attend University life, it’s imperative they are able to navigate their own worldview in the confluence of world views they will be exposed to, even right there at home.
Different Social Impact
In America, we have two oceans on either side of our country that insulate much of our thinking from the rest of the world. In Africa, it’s normal to see a high social value given to the family, while our sense of family may vary from region to region.
In the Middle East there are different social norms put on gender, where here in America we strive to create equality the name of the gender game.
In South America, there are certain social ways of interacting with a culture long created by the colonization of the European Catholic societies mixed with the native groups. While here in America, there is an amalgam of cultures all trying to live and work together in a “melting pot” that centers on the question of What does it mean to be American?
As students are exposed to different social norms, we invite them to explore the reasons why societies are different, and how they can integrate in those social groups depending on their circumstances.
All in all, when a student Graduates from the KIVU Gap Year, they are equipped with the tools to help them with Different Global Cultures, Different Global World views, and Different Social implications no matter where they live and work.