FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is the business address for Kivu Gap Year?
400 North Park Avenue #10b
Breckenridge, CO 80424
Will the students be safe at each given destination?
All of our contacts are based on personal relationships we have as Kivu staff. We are sending our students to those whom we call friend.
We assess risk very carefully at each destination. We employ several layers of support that facilitate excellent program implementation in addition to functioning as a proactive system of prevention. We have (1) In Country Staff who work long term with our partnership organizations and live in the city our students work in. They are the eyes and ears for our students to learn how to navigate the community. (2) We are registered with the local US embassy or consulate in order to receive the most pertinent information related to travel concerns while abroad. (3) Our students live in community together in the program and travel often in groups of 2 or more, especially on the international front.
Lastly, we also trust that our students take responsibility to follow given guidelines and laws within each country and/or use their judgement throughout their travels.
Will the students be free to travel home for holidays?
If a student is placed at a domestic location in the Fall semester, there is an optional Thanksgiving Break. For students who are traveling internationally for the fall semester, there is no Thanksgiving Break. All students are given time off for Christmas and New Years. However, there is no ‘spring break’ during the months between January and April.
What is the actual day-to-day schedule?
A typical week consists in working at internships 3-4 days a week. The other 1-2 days are supported with staff led field trips, cultural training, and personal development. Students are with their home stay families each evening for meals unless there is a group social event on the schedule. Weekends are split between time with home stay families and sponsored trips planned by KIVU every other week.
What will students do on weekends?
At domestic locations, students have open schedules. They do not have Gap Year obligations or responsibilities with the exception of one weekend retreat to the mountains together and an occasional weekend event. The students do have expectations and guidelines for how and where they choose to spend their free time. We expect students to make responsible decisions in light of the guidelines given at their destination. At international locations, students take field trips every other weekend in which they engage in a more comprehensive exposure to the country and people. Off weekends abroad are generally used for the purpose of rest, household chores, and quality time with host families.
What is the housing situation at each destination?
Student housing is included in program fees. Destinations vary in housing set up from apartment style living (Denver) to home stays (Rwanda & Chile). Students can expect dormitory size rooms with shared living throughout the program. Access to modern plumbing and running water is consistently available at most locations.
Can parents go on any part of the trip?
We encourage parents not to visit their children while going through the program. A strong part of the experience is that students learn to grow personally outside of the comforts and guidance of what is familiar. In addition, visits can cause students to struggle with the challenge of living away from home and in an unfamiliar culture. We believe it is an important part of the program for students to wrestle with this tension and discomfort.
Are students able to be contacted at each destination?
Yes, at each destination students are accessible to internet on a weekly basis. Depending on their lodging and internship site will determine how frequently accessible they will be. However, students and parents should set up appropriate channels of communication (phone calls or Skype) with a recommended frequency of no more than once a week and no less than once every two weeks. In this manner, students can give their full presence to their immersion experience rather than allowing technology to keep them distracted and not fully present where they are. This level of frequency also encourages independence to be developed as students move into young adulthood. Parents are expected to honor such recommendations. With this in mind, parents do receive a weekly email update from Kivu Gap Year Headquarters as a window into what is happening on the ground. In the event of an emergency, our team is committed to contacting parents within 24 hours of the incident. In locations and situations where communication is limited, parents will be contacted as quickly as we are able.
Can college students participate in the program?
Our program welcomes college students who have completed no more than 2 years of their undergraduate work. Participation in our program may cause students to change their career path. We do not want to disrupt this path if they are over halfway through their undergraduate studies.
Can students find employment while in the program?
No. It would be very difficult to maintain part time employment while in the program as students are already involved in internships which commit them to 30-40 hours per week. Evenings are dedicated to fellowship, cultural experiences out in the community, as well as discussion and reflection time. Students are encouraged to find work before their Gap Year experience as well as in the summer after the program.
Can students raise funds for this program?
We encourage students to pursue support raising to assist in the financing of the program. We also believe this process helps students gain a better appreciation and understanding for the opportunity they are preparing to embark on. Please contact us directly for assistance in the support raising process as donations will be tax deductible for all donors.
How do you handle prescription drugs while traveling?
Students will need enough for the entire trip in the ORIGINAL bottles with a copy of the prescription or letter from your health care provider on office stationery explaining that the medication has been prescribed for you.
Students should not attempt to amend or change the volume or frequency of prescription medication OR stop taking regularly prescribed medications altogether while in the program. Unless advised by their guiding physician, this program is not a healthy environment to experiment with alternative ways of managing prescription drugs that have been a part of routine life in the past 12 months.
Will students be able to choose their internships?
Yes. Students will be given a wide variety of options from which to choose. Most of these decisions will be made upon arrival at their destination and given proper orientation. This process ensures that students make well educated and informed decisions as to where they apply themselves. Students do fill out internship request forms so we are able to better understand their interests. Internship placements abroad are often not solidified until the student has arrived and been given proper orientation in the country to which they are traveling. Student performance at previous internship sites can also lead to changes and adjustments for future sites in order to maximize the experience for both student and hosting organization.
Are there particular rules and guidelines students must follow while in the program?
Please see the following link for a contract of commitment to which each student must agree upon before arrival to the program. Please also observe the Protocol of Disciplinary Action should students fail to meet the expectations of the contract.
What is the staff to student ratio during the program?
To date, we have maintained a staff to student ratio of 1:7 for all destinations. Often times, the ratio is smaller when students are participating in sponsored Kivu events. For example, when students are hiking Kilimanjaro for example, our 1:7 ratio is supplemented with an outfitter who is primarily responsible for guiding the trip and responding to emergencies.
Who will be supervising and staffing the oversight of this program?
KIVU hires staff to oversee the community of students at each destination. Our staff personally mentor the students as they go through the program through 1v1 time together. They place students at appropriate host homes, establish partnerships with local internships, advocate for students at their work sites, and act as the cultural mediator in their day to day life experiences. Their qualifications are as follows:
-Must have completed undergraduate level work
-Must complete a background check
-Must submit 3 references
-Must carry a Wilderness First Responder or Wilderness First Aid certification through the Wilderness Medical Institute (WMI)
-Must express interest and have a work history of investing and building into 17-21 years old
-Must have previous international travel experience or experience in hosting foreigners.
-Must submit resume and cover letter to apply to work.
-Must conduct a face to face or Skype interview to be oriented to program and job description.
-Upon acceptance, must be trained for one week prior to the program start with Full time staff.
-Carry personal medical insurance
In addition, KIVU full time staff are in constant weekly communication with the Gap Year staff. KIVU full time staff, primarily Luke, Andy, and Jamie Jo, oversee and encourage the team and ensure that the program, partnership, and internships are well in place.