ARCC Gap Semester Programs offer an educational and cultural bridge between high school and college. The ARCC Gap programs are 90 day semesters and are an opportunity to live, work, learn and explore in some of the greatest classrooms on earth.
ARCC Gap Semesters have a rich academic fabric complementing each and every destination, highlighting regional issues that are directly linked to global challenges. As a small community, we embark on a journey of discovery of people, places, cultures and ideas. Over the course of our travels, we examine five fundamental 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 children, 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 Rhinos. 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.
ARCC’s Leadership Development is designed to foster growth and encourage students to play an active role in the group’s overall Gap experience. Find your voice and build your confidence by undertaking leadership opportunities and increased responsibility as the semester progresses. Through student led lessons, activities and excursions, students are empowered to become leaders.
Students start the semester in an instructor-student role and gradually progress towards a peer relationship where students are expected to take on challenges, assist in responsible group decision making, and facilitate constructive and relevant discussions. Students receive both positive and constructive feedback from their instructors and peers throughout the semester to assist in boosting their confidence and strengthening their effectiveness as leaders.
There are typically 8-12 students per group, which provides an intimate group environment. This is important to ensure that the group is not so large that students get lost in the shuffle. This is your opportunity to have a significant experience, and when you get to know each other on a family level it is instrumental to your overall experience and learning.
Students on an ARCC Gap Semester want to be here and are excited to be a part of the Gap experience. This isn’t a program for students that are coming out of a youth at risk program. Being that this is such a long period of time, we need to make sure that students are coming for the right reasons. We determine this through our application process, which requires students to complete a detailed application, interview with a Gap Director, and provide two outside references, one based on academics, the other on character.
ARCC has developed, nurtured and maintained relationships with in-country field partners over the years. We trust our partners to work with us to create dynamic itineraries that are flexible, and to uncover service projects that are going to be impactful, both for our students and for the communities in which we work.
On an ARCC Gap Semester students experience and immerse themselves in cultures they are unfamiliar with and slowly watch them become their own. We do this through homestays, village stays and participating in the daily activities that keep these communities going. As we immerse ourselves in these cultures and learn about different projects and fledgling organizations, we are given the opportunity to also be a part of the process by working alongside community members. Living and volunteering in these communities helps us gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for what these communities and organizations are trying to accomplish.