Year after year we wish lots of incredible people bon voyage as they head off to one of our programs in Africa and Asia, followed by some independent travel. Some are embarking on 5 week summer programs to work on a project overseas and many are about to undertake a life-changing gap year.
Can a gap year really change you?
Meeting new people, learning about other cultures, getting closer to nature and travelling extraordinary parts of the globe can have a profound effect on all of us.
There could be many reasons or a single driver for you wanting to pack your bag and visit somewhere new for a few weeks or several months. You might feel you’re not emotionally ready for college, or simply want a break before continuing with your studies. Maybe you want to gain stand-out experience for a job interview or some transferable skills and confidence to help shape your career. It might be that you simply don’t know what you want to do next so need time to think in a different setting. There is also a good chance that you feel a strong desire to volunteer and give something back to a community, while widening your experience as a global citizen.
Making sure you get real value from the experience
When groups return from one of our programs, we always ask them how they would sum up their experience and whether it has changed them. It is only through this feedback that we know our programs are working the way they should and giving real value to people like you and to the wonderful host communities of our programs.
What’s always interesting is when we ask our faithful AV alumni if and how the experience changed their lives. The reason this feedback is so fascinating is because some of these individuals went on their gap year five, ten or even twenty years ago.
The AV legacy: Up to 20 years on…
There are so many reasons to take a gap year or spend five weeks in another country over the summer. We could talk about the benefits all day but we think it’s better to hear from those who came to us a little unsure of their future and who carved out a new path because of their AV experience.
“It helped me realize that I did love Africa and that I wanted to live there for a period of time. After AV and during university, I went back there each summer and then after university I moved to Tanzania and Arusha in 2006 and stayed there till the end of 2013. I worked every day, got to grips with the trials and tribulations of life in Arusha. I set up a business and made friends, well actually some of my best friends. Now, looking back, I absolutely wouldn’t change a single minute of it. AV helped me along a path that I never would have chosen and it helped me experience some amazing things.” Ben, Tanzania, 2003
“It was commented on in my application for my first job as a positive aspect of my extracurricular activities. The travelling and living away from home prepared me for the same in my career. Teaching 74 children at a time gave me the confidence to speak in public. Working with children who were so happy and willing to learn no matter what was a joy!” Helen, Kenya, 2005
“Following my time in Uganda in 2009 my thirst for travel took me all across the world during and after university. The confidence it gave me, and the love for the outdoors and travel it created, led to me choosing to join the Army after University. I’m not a Lieutenant in the Infantry and haven’t looked back. Thank you!” Tom, Uganda, 2009
“Changed degree to Politics and Economics (was due to be studying English Literature) and now work in an emerging markets investment firm on the back of my time in Africa and the interest it fostered in developmental economics.” Louise, Malawi, 2009
“I spent 2 years managing Safari Lodges in East Africa after a Hotel Management course post University, followed by 8 years running a Travel Company based in Malawi, specialising in Responsible, Educational & Sustainable Travel. AV profoundly affected myself, my career and the direction my life took post Gap Year. I cannot thank AV enough for giving me the choices I needed at that stage of my life.” Dominic, Kenya, 1999
And of course, there’s always the positive impact that an AV adventure can have for those closest to you when you return!…
“I realised how lucky I was. I appreciated life so much more and was inspired to do good in the world. I realised the importance of education. A million and one things!! AV completely changed me as a person, from a stroppy selfish teenager to a grateful young adult!!” Rachael, Tanzania, 2008
We really hope you’ll become part of our alumni group soon. Find out more about our summer programs and gap year opportunities.