We, here at the KIVU Gap Year, are excited for what’s going on in this current class. I just spent some time in January with the students in Israel and Palestine, and the questions we are helping students navigate verge on the incredible.
From the beginning of the Gap Year, we are focused on a few tenable goals for students to engage with.
Who are you? – We want students to own who they are at the core level. We want them to ask hard questions about how they see the world. We want to challenge them to “know” and “be known” in a community of fellow journeymen so that; when they enter the University setting or the Workplace, they can stand up for who they are. Our colleagues call this Emotional Intelligence. Or EQ.
How can you develop Community? – On the travels around the world, we introduce students to a variety of people groups. They encounter people that think like them AND people that think different. We encourage students to be able to have a viable discourse where they can disagree with civility, and develop a community of friends and colleagues that can stand strong on being human.
What is your gift? – We believe each student has a fire inside them waiting to be fanned into flame. We utilize the relationships we have around the world to introduce students to a broad base of potential ways they can engage. We want to intentionally engage students in a way where they can find their own passion for what lies before them.
The time I spent walking with the students abroad was so encouraging. While we visited some of the oldest sites in the world and met with some of the most interesting people; students continually asked Who, How, and What.
If you’re interested in coming on the adventure around the world, please know MARCH 1 is an application deadline to join the class of 2019. Be sure to visit the website and fill out the inquiry at http://www.kivugapyear.com and one of our qualified staff will guide you through the process.
We’re looking forward to seeing how we can serve you on your time building your CV, learning about you, and exploring the world.
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
How is there such diversity among Gap Year costs?
Is a Gap Year Safe?
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.
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.
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.