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More GAP Year Options

We have discussed the so-called "GAP year" here before. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, rest assured that it has nothing to do with trendy, preppy clothing. It simply means that some high school seniors intend to wait a full year after high school graduation before attending college. Some (perhaps the majority) go through the traditional college process during senior year and acquire their acceptances. Then, after choosing their best-fit school, exercise their option to defer attending until fall term the following year. Other seniors may choose to delay their college process until after their GAP year, feeling that using the credibility of their year's "real-world" experience will enhance their college admissions chances. Either approach is valid.

GAP year plans are very flexible. Students can roll their own or take advantage of pre-structured programs. One such program is Projects Abroad, which claims to be "the leading volunteer abroad organization," which offers a diverse range of international service projects, plus the opportunity to become part of one of their overseas volunteer communities.

Projects Abroad's Global Gap is a 27-week volunteer gap-year program designed for recent high school graduates. The program gives students an extensive international experience, which spans three continents, five countries and twelve volunteer opportunities. Here are some additional details that may interest you:

Global Gap program might be a smart choice for recent graduates ready to explore the world, learn about important global issues, and make a difference in various developing countries. Designed especially for high-school graduates taking a year off before college, the program consists of a one-week orientation program in Ghana, followed by one-to-two month programs in South Africa, Peru, India and Thailand, as well as a holiday break back home. Each program allows volunteers to become involved in service projects that lend insight into important global issues including housing, education, environmental conservation and human rights. The itinerary includes:

Orientation in Accra, Ghana (Oct. 2-9, 2011): Participants will begin their voyage at the airport, where they're met by a Projects Abroad staff member who will transport them to their host family's home. The orientation week includes workshops on dealing with culture shock, various international issues, and common themes that one can expect to encounter in all of the scheduled countries. The orientation in Accra serves as a time for volunteers to get to know each other and prepare for the next 26 weeks.

Stage One: South Africa (Oct. 10 – Dec. 9, 2011): During their first two weeks in South Africa, volunteers will work as a group on a Community Building project, where they'll work alongside local villagers to help with the construction of houses for families in Mfuleni, a town just outside of Cape Town. The remaining six weeks will be spent interning within the Human Rights program, which involves working closely with a trained lawyer to learn more about human rights through campaigning, community involvement, legal system education and the politics of governance.

Winter Break in the United States (Dec. 10, 2011 – Jan. 8, 2012): Students will visit home in the United States for four weeks.

Stage Two: Peru (Jan. 9 – March 8, 2012): In Peru, volunteers take part in an innovative English language teacher training program during Peru's long school holidays from January through March. Participants prepare interactive lessons for small groups that are divided up according to their level of knowledge of the language. Throughout the training program, volunteers help teachers develop worksheets and lesson plans that can be used effectively in the classroom. Depending on the scheduling of teacher training, the volunteers may have the opportunity to spend a week in Projects Abroad's Inca project, which involves different archaeological work, community work and expeditions throughout the area.

Stage Three: India (March 9 – April 20, 2012): In the India stage of their journey, Global Gap participants are given the chance to choose the project for which they volunteer. Volunteers can choose to teach English in schools, work in care centers or orphanages, or work on Projects Abroad's model farm. Participants can also choose take part in projects geared more toward internships like medicine, journalism or veterinary medicine.

Stage Four: Thailand (April 21 – May 20, 2012): Volunteers finish their journey in the city of Ao Nang, Thailand, where they will work on Projects Abroad's Diving & Marine Conservation project. All volunteers spend the first week becoming Open Water Diver certified so they can fully participate in the underwater conservation work. In addition to analyzing reef damage and fish populations, volunteers help clear the reefs of trash on salvage dives. Out of the water, volunteers assist with beach clean-ups, mangrove reforestation projects and outreach work with local schools.

Fees: The all-inclusive Global Gap program fee is $29,995, which includes all food and housing, medical and travel insurance, airport pick-up and drop off in each destination, as well as 24-hour support from trained Projects Abroad staff. The fee also includes all required plane tickets, as well as various sightseeing tours and activities in each destination.

Sounds exciting. For more information, visit


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