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Our Kivu Gap Year students spend 900 hours volunteering and interning with localized non-profit organizations around the world. Students spend 25-40 hours per week at their assigned sites. They have a supervisor and are given responsibilities that work within the scope of the organization’s mission and purpose. They are a supportive role to the ongoing work inside the community. Our students stay at each destination for 5-12 weeks so they are able to provide a level of short-term consistency for the local organization to benefit from their presence. The exchange is one of mutual benefit as the community is able to receive valuable volunteer hours and the student is able to receive valuable experience.
Our Community Service Approach: Dignifying Work
How do you help a community without hurting them? A growing field of research is revealing the harmful ways in which outside aid can contribute and perpetuate the problem of poverty. Therefore, our students approach their service from a non-directive, grassroots, community level effort. By taking secondary roles inside the organization, our student’s work contributes to the overall vision and mission of their respective organization without introducing new projects which are often capital and labor intensive and may distract from the long term vision for the community.
Our students come as listeners, co-learners, and contributors to the pre-determined projects endogenous to the local community. Your support encourages the work and the projects of the local people. In this respect, the presence of our gap year students is less disruptive to the overall vision and purpose so that once the students leave, the work continues for the locally committed members. Our students recognize the rich community capital already present inside each organization and in this way show dignity and compassion to their hosts. This long-term development approach ensures the most healthy and long lasting impact of your contribution to this cause as our students carry a strong sensitivity towards applying cultural intelligence in their work.
Brief Program Overview
The year is divided into two semesters spanning the academic calendar year (September to May).
The fall semester is primarily based in the United States and focuses on internships in urban cities. Students engage in opportunities ranging from teacher assistant in low-income school to volunteering among the homeless population at walk-in shelters to tutoring refugees to interning at a legal aid clinic. Through these experiences students are exposed to domestic issues of poverty, race, immigration, urbanization, and gentrification.
The spring semester is primarily based internationally and focuses on internships in the developing world. Students work and live in Kigali, Rwanda as they discover developing world business and education opportunities. They hike Kilimanjaro while in the region. Students work and live in Amman, Jordan as they breakdown stereotypes between Arabs and Americans and come alongside organizations working with peace and conflict issues through the use of relational training methodology. Students complete their spring semester in the Philippines as they intern with a local poverty alleviation program that teaches values, health, and livelihood curriculum to those living off of less than $.50 a day. Through these experiences students are exposed to international issues of developing business, education, health care, agriculture, and poverty alleviation.