With 31 years of experience in countries throughout the world, ARCC has unparalleled access to some of the most incredible people, places and experiences the world has to offer. Our contacts and relationships abroad allow us to immerse ourselves in the cultures we visit through homestays, service work, teaching and exchange. Going beyond the weekend visit, we take the time to plant our feet in each location, becoming part of the community at large. Eating, sleeping and living amongst the local people, we are welcomed as friends. Working in partnership with area leaders, we pinpoint worthwhile service projects and collaborate with community members to achieve a common goal. Refurbishing a school, building a community center or working with orphans, our hard work supplements our education, organized around five major themes:
Literacy and Education
Compare the philosophy of education in different countries by identifying the challenges, issues and limitations regarding literacy and education in the developing world, while also taking part in real life solutions in play to bring change to schools. Working with administrators, teachers, and local kids, our students delve deep into the realities of education. Teaching English, refurbishing classrooms and tutoring kids, our students partake in ongoing community projects.
Go behind the scenes to see the access to health care and its positive and adverse effects on rural and urban communities. By shadowing doctors, assisting nurses and interviewing local community members, our students are exposed to the uphill battle in dealing with the world’s infectious diseases including cholera, HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and many others.
Urbanization and the Movement of Peoples
Examine the regional and global trends of emigration and urbanization and their effects on food security, economic development and the environmental landscape. Work with farmers who train the younger generation in sustainable agriculture practices needed to grow food for a growing urban population. Meet with local entrepreneurs in urban regions to see the ongoing ingenuity in the workplace that brings economic development to the area.
Environment and Conservation
Investigate the rising issues surrounding habitat degradation and natural resource loss. Explore the fine line between national interest in economic development and conservation efforts for native land and the protection of animals. Students meet with community leaders and local conservation NGO’s to take part in grassroots projects pertaining to environmental solutions.
Microfinance and Economic Growth
Research how communities make ends meet in an increasingly globalized economy, while working to maintain their unique cultures. Travel and meet with communities whose locals have developed co-ops and vocational training schools to build their own skill set and economic success, while also protecting their way of life. Our students get an inside look and understanding for the genuine progress happening on the ground.
The five essential themes comprise the structure around which the ARCC Gap Semester curriculum is built. Interwoven between these pillars is a mixture of journaling, interviews with local experts and officials, as well as group and community discussions. In addition, students address one or more of these themes in every geographic area they visit through service projects and field research. These experiences are summarized in a Milestone Project for each section. Each Milestone, such as an ethnographic study, documentary short, or independent service project, encapsulates the student's experience from that section and provides reference material for the Capstone Project.
At the end of the Gap Semester we organize our thoughts and actions in a final Capstone Project. Students will choose one theme and draw upon the rich experiences of the last 3 months to examine it from a particular angle. They may write about how attitudes towards public health in Thailand and China lead to disparate health care systems, drawing upon their experience shadowing doctors at Lom Sak Hospital in Thailand or compare the success of conservation efforts in the population of Kenya’s lions, Tanzania’s elephants, and Uganda’s gorillas. Students come away from their Gap Semester not only with memories that will last them a lifetime, but also with skills and experience that will be invaluable in their future educational goals.
Students have the option to receive either 10 or 20 college quarter credits (6 or 12 semester credits) accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.