ARCC Gap: Asia - China, Vietnam, Cambodia & Thailand

Video and Photos

On top of Tiger Leaping Gorge
On top of Tiger Leaping Gorge
Working with kids at Pollard School in Kunming China
Working with kids at Pollard School in Kunming China
Sunrise at Angkor Wat
Sunrise at Angkor Wat
A group activity we successfully completed on a beach in Mui Ne, Vietnam.
Building and installing water filters in Cambodia.
Planting trees in an eco-village, Chambok, Cambodia.
Exploring Ha Long Bay. Vietnam.
Primary School Painting. Liming, China

About

Leave the traditional classroom far behind as we journey to China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Gap Asia is a unique blend of education, service and exploration of these intriguing and ancient cultures. Our exclusive access to people and places gives us a window on aspects of Asia rarely experienced by outsiders.

Traveling deep into China’s Yunnan Province, we facilitate conversational English lessons in an urban high school while living in a homestay. Settling into village life in Cambodia, we are a part of the change as we get our hands dirty building and installing bio-sand water filters for rural villages. Partnering with a Thai nature reserve we understand the true value of animal conservation as we care for and interact with Thailand’s indigenous elephants. Assisting in a Vietnamese community that provides education and health care to children affected by Agent Orange, we see how service transcends boundaries.

Highlights
  • Watch the Sunset and Sunrise from your Tent on the Great Wall of China
  • Impact Lives While Installing Clean Water Filters in Homes in Cambodia
  • Become SCUBA Certified on the Thai Island of Koh Tao and Help Restore the Reef
  • Study Health Issues by Working With Youth Affected by Agent Orange
  • Learn About and Care for Elephants in Thailand Alongside Local Conservationists

Questions & Answers

Yes there were a lot of photo and video opportunities. We had a group go pro that our leaders and members of the group used to capture moments through out the semester.

Reviews

97%
based on 24 reviews
  • Housing 9.3
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.5
  • Value 9.3
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 16 - 24 of 24
Default avatar
Peter
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great overall

This gap trip has been a really great trip overall. All of the service projects except for one have been really rewarding too. My only qualm with the trip is the no alcohol policy. Drinking with a local group is a great way to experience culture and bond. I've had to turn down so many really fun sounding opportunities because of it. That being said, there was plenty of fun to be had in the trip.

Response from ARCC Programs

Peter, thank you for your review and for your appreciation of the service projects and the program as a whole. I'm glad that your experience was so positive in spite of your disagreement with our no tolerance policy. While we can appreciate that at times sharing a drink can foster cross-cultural connections, as an organization we have to balance the benefits of this with the issues created by allowing our students to drink during the program. Again, we are delighted that your overall experience was positive. We appreciate the feedback and we thank you for adhering to our policies.

Default avatar
Rachel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best experience of my life

I decided to take a gap year during my junior year of high school, and then began the search for programs. As soon as I discovered ARCC, I knew there were no other programs like it. Sophia in the office answered my emails immediately about any questions I ever had. The trip itself has been an unbelievable learning experience. My two leaders, Anna and Phil, are knowledgable and passionate about many topics, including the environment, world/US politics, women's rights, and public health. Because of this, my group has many discussions about these points and I have learned more from them than I ever learned in school. I've also become more passionate about these aibjects as well, so it encourages me to learn more and share what I've learned when I go home.
I also enjoy seeing different parts of each country. We get to experience the urban and rural areas, and it's interesting comparing the cultures and customs of the people from each. I love visiting every place on the itinerary because every place is different.
The itinerary is nicely balanced between service projects and travel. Teaching at a Chinese high school, cementing a wall in a Chinese village, building and installing bio-sand water filters, volunteering with victims of Agent Orange, and constructing a pathway at a Cambodian school has taught me valuable skills that I can use the rest of my life, such as patience, communication, and the value of working hard. Visiting museums, walking around the city, and staying in homestays has taught me the rich history and cultures of the countries we visit.
During my three month trip in Asia through ARCC I've grown as a person. I've learned how to stand up for myself, fight for what I believe in, never give up, and so much more. It's the best decision I've ever made, and I wouldn't trade my experiences for anything.

What would you improve about this program?
See more rural areas in Vietnam
Default avatar
Grace
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Decision I Ever Made

The best decision I ever made was signing up for this trip. I wanted to find a gap program that would allow me to see the world, submerge myself in culture, participate in hands on service, and help me develop as a young adult. I did not want a three month vacation, but rather a trip that would use my time in a meaningful way. ARCC Asia has surpassed my expectations. On the trip, I traveled to remote locations and had once in a lifetime opportunities such as trying yak butter tea at a rural Tibetan home stay or climbing waterfalls and making bamboo coconut rice in a rustic Cambodian village. I participated in a wide range of service projects from teaching English at various schools to constructing and distributing Biosand water filters. I had just the right amount of academic work. I read and discussed articles each week on topics pertaining to the area, presented research at an exhibition on Agent Orange in Vietnam, and throughout the trip worked on my final project about Girls Education in South East Asia. Most importantly, on this trip, I made lifelong friends. The people and the leaders were amazing. They constantly pushed me to be a conscientious traveler, not a tourist, and they made me feel passionate about the various issues we encountered. And of course, we had a lot of fun.

What would you improve about this program?
I would vary the type of living situations. We stayed in a lot of hotels. I would also make sure the service projects best met our abilities. For example, we were not well equipped or well trained for cementing.
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Zack
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

WOW

I never knew this trip would be so cementy! I do not only mean that we work with cement on this trip, but many of the moments shared and created will be forever cemented into my heart and my mind. Cheesy, but thats the only way i can find some cheese in Asia.

What would you improve about this program?
I know there is a zero drug policy, but some times having a drink or smoking a cigaret is a cultural thing. One argument for the policy is that we are not here to do drugs, or that drugs take away from the trip. But really having a drink or a smoke with the home stay host is a great way to immerse yourself in their culture.
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Allie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Three Months, a Lifetime of Experiences with ARCC

Considering that one of the main focuses of a college education is to prepare students for the large world that awaits them, what better way to begin that education than to venture out into the world itself? In three months, I immersed myself in radically different cultures, interacted with people who have different world views, customs, and traditions, and felt the liberation from self-exploration and discovery. I do not believe that a gap year is an alternative to college, but more of a supplement and benefit that will significantly increase my independence and preparedness for the years to come.
Throughout Adventures Cross Country Gap Asia, I had the time of my life exploring new places and meeting new people. I got to tour the cities of Beijing, Hanoi, Phnom Penh, and Bangkok, take local cooking lessons and learn about the culinary cultures of each country, tandem bike along the countryside of China, and work with people affected by the herbicide Agent Orange in Vietnam. Adventures Cross Country aptly weaves the five core themes of the academic portion of the semester into each activity and project. The five core themes are: Microfinance and Economic Activity, Public Health, Education and Literacy, Environment and Conservation, and Urbanization and the Movement of Peoples. The end goal of the academic part of the year is a Capstone Project that aims to incorporate all that one has learned into a cohesive and educational presentation (in any form or medium).
Also, the two leader and thirteen others students were the best, most kind, caring, intellectually curious, outgoing, informed, and fun group of people that I could have traveled with. When one is with a group of people who they love and have the greatest admiration for and when one travels the world and sees sights that spur the mind and create a stronger passion for the world around him or her, they develop as a person and create a better environment for themselves and for the rest of the world. Although three months is a short time, so much happens in the most positive of ways. Adventures Cross Country is the prime choice for a gap semester because they indulge all of the senses, promote greater awareness of the self and of one's surroundings, and cater to every person as an individual learner while encouraging them to think of things greater than themselves.

What would you improve about this program?
All I would say is that some of the service projects did not have very much structure. Our time and efforts would have more efficacy if the local organizations had a pre-set plan or more structure for the group.
Read my full story
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Dana
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great learning experience!

The housing it much nicer than I anticipated, we have had wifi at almost every place we have been to. We spend a lot of time in busier areas of Asia however the rural places are super cool to visit. I have learned so much from the leaders because they are very passionate about the topics for the trip. Time flies by because you are kept busy each day.

What would you improve about this program?
More rustic areas because those villages have been my favorite
Default avatar
Allegra
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

ARCC Gap Asia is Awesome

Even though I am only halfway through the semester, I have already had some of the most meaningful experiences in my life, all in this short month and a half.

ARCC combines the perfect amount of adventure, service, academics, opportunities for independent and group leadership growth, and personal development.

We have gone on several incredible hikes through some of China's most breathtaking landscapes, kayaked through a stunning bay in Vietnam that is a world heritage site, and we swam in one of Cambodia's famous waterfalls.

We have done a variety of meaningful seevics projects, such as: teaching English at various primary and high schools, beautifying the gardens of a residential community for victims of agent orange who we interacted and played with as well, and constructing and installing bio-sand water filters in rural villages of Cambodia. There are also many more incredible service opportunities in store for the next half. The service has been incredibly humbling, eye opening, fun, and rewarding, and after completing each project I have come out with a much deeper understanding of the issue and a burning passion to raise awareness and continue to make a positive change even when I return home.

For each service project an activity in general, we read articles and have lengthy group discussions to further supplement our knowledge and to boost our learning experience to make it as powerful as possible. While there are academic based articles, discussions, and projects, the workload is very small and enhances the whole experience. We take turns being leader of the week, which gives us more responiibility and chanes to stand up and be a leader. I can tell than I am a much more confident leader now that many skills have been practiced.

Choosing to go on this gap semester was one of the best decisions I have made. While a college education is very important, learning about the world and about yourself is also incredibly important. This semester really turns you into a better person- more humble, culturally aware, open minded, sensitive, passionate, confident, and motivated- and all of these will also help prepare you to be the best student you can be. You won't regret this trip!

What would you improve about this program?
The only thing I would hangs is the duration of staying in each country. For example, I would have liked to spend more time in Vietnam to explore the rural areas. I would also like to spend more time on service projects, such as the water filtration one. However, all experiences have been wonderful, and nothing needs changing.
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Meg
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Program!!!!!

I am currently on the trip and loving it! I was originally going to go to Africa with ARCC, but the trip had to be cancelled due to safety reasons. I am so glad that I stayed with ARCC and went to Asia.
The highlights of this trip (so far): Friendship Village, Liming, and all of Cambodia.
It's very interesting to learn and see the different cultures in Asia. You always are taught what happens in a different continent, but rarely see it. This program allows you to apply what you are taught and see it happening right in front of you. I looked at and heard stories of other programs that just don't even compare to ARCC.
Overall, I couldn't be happier that I am here and I can't wait to see what is in store for me in the next month.

Default avatar
Mairead
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Highly Recommended!

Overall the program has been great. We all bonded very quickly and I couldn't have asked for a better group of people to spend 3 months with. Every place we stayed has been safe and clean and very comfortable. The food has not been a issue even for the vegetarians and the picky eaters.

What would you improve about this program?
More free time to read, journal and hang out. It sometimes felt rushed.