Global Citizen Year - Gap Year Program Ecuador
98% Rating
(22 Reviews)

Global Citizen Year - Gap Year Program Ecuador

Global Citizen Year is a non-profit social enterprise forging a new educational pathway for emerging leaders. We offer an experience filled with discovery, perspective, adventure, and independence. In one year you join a family, work in your local community, learn a new language, receive training from thought leaders, form a lifelong network, and make an authentic impact on a community worlds away from your own.

Ecuador is a small country overflowing with incredible biodiversity and cultural traditions. You'll find volcanic landscapes, Amazonian rainforests, and everything in between. Become part of a family and community and immerse yourself in the amazingness that is Ecuador.

For more information on Ecuador or to chat with a staff member click on "Visit Site" above. If you're ready to get going on your application, click on "Get Started". The Global Citizen Year team is excited to hear from you!

Locations
South America » Ecuador
Program Tags
Adventure Travel
Hands-On Learning
Language Immersion
Study Abroad
Teach Abroad
Volunteer Abroad
Length
6-12 Months
Accommodation
Host Family
Primary Language
Spanish
Starting Price
$25,000.00
Currency
USD
Price Details
We work with each family to determine an appropriate tuition. Historically, over 80% of our class has received some level of financial aid, and over 30% has received full scholarships. To learn more <a href="http://globalcitizenyear.org/apply/tuition-and-funding/">click this following link</a>.

Questions & Answers

I applied on May 10th, 2013. I was contacted for an interview on May 16, 2013. I was accepted into the program on June 5, 2013. Keep in mind that I did apply for the last deadline.

Program Reviews

  • Housing
    93%
  • Support
    97%
  • Fun
    97%
  • Value
    92%
  • Safety
    95%

Program Reviews (22)

Santiago
Male
20 years old
Bell, California

What my "Bridge Year" opened my eyes to!

10/10

Becoming conscious that the background I come from is extremely different than what I thought it was through meeting the other Fellow's in the program and living with people of a different culture in the year was truly eye-opening. If you are from a low-income background, come from a Minority-Majority community and went through the public school system as myself, then this program is a must-do as it provides the chance (alongside a scholarship based on your income level) to change your worldview! Along the way you will be taught how to think critically, be independent and learn how to be humble. You will also be challenged, you will cry and you'll come back home a different person. However, if you are serious about making a change in the world you will realize that all these adversities are necessary in order to understand our rapidly changing/globalizing society. Not to mention you'll make some life-long friends along the way :)

I completely recommend this program, 10/10, and would do it again!

John
Male
23 years old
Bay Point, California

Learning How to Grow

10/10

I took my bridge year with Global Citizen Year in Ecuador, and I always have great nostalgia whenever I reflect back on it. I won't ever forget about all of the love and care I received from the staff in Global Citizen Year from my host families, my apprenticeship supervisors and teachers at the schools I worked along side with, and the family whose farm I worked on. Not to mention all the traveling adventures and bonding through suffering that I experienced with the fellow fellows in my region. This year will always have a special place in my heart; and this might sound sappy, but my year in Ecuador is an experience that reminds me that there is so much more to look forward to whenever life gets hard in college. My logic isn't really logical, but my bridge year gives me hope that there is so much more to look forward to in life. Taking a year off with this program also taught to me to prioritize the development of my own character; Global Citizen Year emphasizes self-transformation, reflection, and interpersonal relating and understanding within their curriculum, and growing personally with regard to all of these aspects was my main goal for the year. Had I gone into college without taking this bridge year I definitely would have been the type that thinks his grades are his only saving grace (not that grades aren't important to me, they very much still are). I could see myself having missed out on so much of life had I not first experienced it without school and career being a distraction from my personal development.

Global Citizen Year can be hit or miss depending on the homestay and apprenticeship placement that fellows receive, but there is definitely a lot of room to make the year your own wherever you're placed. I admit that my homestay and apprenticeship placements were atypically wonderful placements (many fellows in my region were disappointed in their seemingly non-existent apprenticeships during my year), so perhaps my attitude would have been very different had my placement been different. Although I expected to develop professionally through my apprenticeship, that wasn't the case; rather I came out having my worldview challenged and I believe I was very much more prepared to face the challenge of a changing worldview as I entered college. Although I learned a lot about the food justice movement and its values, I didn't make impact on the community or the movement or any of the initiatives because I was unskilled. The nature of the program taught me above anything to be able to make the most of the circumstances I'm placed in and not focus on what I'm lacking but make the most of what I do have, especially with regard to the relationships that I'm given; Global Citizen Year instilled in me the value that anyone, no matter how different, can relate and find common ground, and sometimes I really gotta fight myself to make that happen. Global Citizen Year has changed their brand image from being volunteerism-focused from when I joined their program, to a self transformation/self-discovery program, and I'm impressed by how aggressively they evaluate, reevaluate, and refine their programming to meet the needs of the fellows they take in year after year.

While Global Citizen Year provides many resources for their fellows to develop professionally (through the training seminars, the academic component of their curriculum, the many alumni opportunities they offer), I especially recommend this program to people who crave growth in their integrity and their emotional capacity. Of course, anyone can easily get away without growing in these respects, but Global Citizen Year surely facilitates that growth process.

How can this program be improved?

I would recommend to Global Citizen Year that there should be more support for fellows the summer after they return from their countries. It's a common experience among fellows that they don't know what to do with themselves after they get back, and I personally regret having not thought about how I wanted to use that following summer to prepare for school. Receiving advice, guidance, and wisdom from the staff and alumni from the program would have been a very beneficial resource during that summer. More college preparatory guidance and career advice and resources would have been nice. Although I definitely came into college a more mature person, Global Citizen Year didn't help me think realistically about my career interests because I had so little knowledge about what the job market is like.

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Ian
Male
22 years old
Kathmandu, Nepal
Other

We Are the Tide

10/10

"There are 7 billion 46 million people on the planet and most of us have the audacity to think we matter."
*The opening line from a Watsky poem I recited to my global cohort after 8 months abroad...
As my eyes glaze the room I bear witness to the most inspiring minds of my generation. With our own unique world views our aspiration's are as diverse as the places we've just called home this last year.
The end of a chapter set to disembark back to our homes to pursue these dreams I realized this experience was only the beginning. The catalyst- a modern day rite of passage in our globalized world. I would come to say during my performance "I have the audacity to think I matter!"

How can this program be improved?

One of the challenges I was forced to confront during my year was my attitude and tendency of addiction. There was a complete lack of dialog while I confronted this issue. I could count only on my peers to have honest dialog and many of whom were dismissed for this vary same issue. I believe that there needs to be some type of moderator or therapist more accessible to have confidential dialog with while confronting issues in this type of isolation.

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Elizabeth
Female
21 years old
Durham, NH
University of New Hampshire

Best Decision Ever.

10/10

Global Citizen Year offers a pure in-country experience. This is not a vacation. This program is about personal growth and understanding. This program is challenging, but the challenge brings infinite rewards. I cannot imagine who I would be without everything I learned with Global Citizen Year as my guide. I would recommend this experience to anyone because it is so valuable. But, make sure to inform yourself of the values of Global Citizen Year and what your bridge year will look like.

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Not
Female
24 years old
Virginia
University of Virginia

Great for some, not for all

6/10

The saving grace of Global Citizen Year is it's on-the-grounds staff. I will always admire what they set out to do as a social enterprise and the unique emphasis on compassion that they bring to all aspects of their program. Additionally, they do a phenomenal job at drawing together a diverse group of participants from all US (and sometimes foreign) backgrounds. People from my year currently range from attending Harvard to community college to working full-time in order to save for classes. This being said, I am incredibly conflicted about recommending this program. Personally, I regret my choice to move to Ecuador for my first year after high school, particularly as I received no financial aid and have less resources to draw on now for my degree. I might come to a point where I no longer feel this way, but I haven't gotten there yet. When I finally came back to the States, I had was diagnosed with clinical depression, frequent panic attacks, and mild PTSD. I know of a handful of others as well who have suffered mentally both during, after, and as a result of their bridge year with Global Citizen. Starting back into the world of academia, I have felt continuously handicapped due to my damaged mental state. I lived in relatively intense isolation for over six months with no meaningful relationships built or skills developed. My apprenticeship was non-existent. Asides from 2-3 people, the Fellows in my region had no work. We spent the majority of our free time in a food court at the mall in the nearest city. My experience might be A-typical, it might not. To some extent, it still might be better than if I had gone with a different program. At the very least, Global Citizen has a plan to be the best, even if they do not always manage to implement that plan. The program is still figuring out how to make the apprentice/host-family model work. Expect to do the majority of the grudge work yourself and if you find yourself gelling well with the other Fellows in your region, count yourself blessed that you have that social inclusion to fall back on because not everyone in the program does. I want to have loved Global Citizen. They give you every reason to do so. Indeed, I feel conflicted writing this because I do admire the staff greatly and do not want to diminish their efforts. However, I do not love my experience and I feel obliged to represent those former participants who's memories might resonate with my writing. I do not write this review to discourage the reader from charting their own path through life and their education. A gap/bridge year at least should be considered by everyone, even if it is not for everyone. My viewpoint is merely a part of the larger puzzle and the people who read this and do not get slighted or discouraged are the people that Global Citizen wants and needs.

(note: gooverseas requires me to select a "recommend" or "not recommend response" on its review form, my selection is arbitrary)

How can this program be improved?

legitimate volunteer work, greater social interaction (not for fun, but for mental well-being).

Response from Global Citizen Year

Thank you for sharing both the positive and more difficult aspects of your bridge year with Global Citizen Year. We are sorry to hear that your experience with us did not feel fully positive, and want to make sure you are receiving the support you need. Please reach out to us if there is anything we can do to support you, or if you'd like to talk to us directly about your experience. We are always open to feedback and eager to learn from our participants, past and present.

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Florin
Male
24 years old
Berkeley, California
University of California- Berkeley

Just what I needed out of high school and into the rest of my life

10/10

I remember when I was first accepted as a Fellow, and I still had no idea what was in store for me but knew it was something I needed. Everything from that point on reinforced that for me. This program gave me the opportunity to travel to another country for the first time in my life, and not as tourist, but as a part of a local community where I formed real relationships and genuinely came to think of it as a second home. I thought I knew what it meant to learn another language after having studied one for four years in high school, but that didn't nearly compare to learning Spanish in Ecuador, being taught in the language itself instead of translating from English to Spanish and getting to use it every single day. I learned so much about myself, this new country, and the world from my Global Citizen Year, and I feel so privileged to have had this experience that I will surely carry for the rest of my life.

The program is so intentionally laid out to facilitate the Fellows' growth as much as possible; it really is quite astounding. The staff are always there for you, but never push themselves on you. You are never really alone, as there is an amazing support system in place consisting of other local Fellows, your team leader, and your host community. Ultimately, this year is what you make of it, but you are given a plethora of resources to work with. Never in my life have I had such a transformative experience in the course of a school year that leaves me so proud to have been a part of.

How can this program be improved?

I was not initially happy with my apprenticeship placement, and I felt that my preferences weren't taken into consideration, but after working with me team leader, I saw the thought behind it and how it contributed to my growth. My team leader still allowed me to switch, and gave me contacts to find another opportunity in my community. I continued working with my initial apprenticeship some days, along with my other one.

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Aitran
Female
24 years old
Palo Alto, California
Stanford University

What I Needed

10/10

When my sister came to visit me four months into my stay, at the Christmas-New Year time, she looked me in the eye as we sat by the river where I bathed every day, "You are so you. You are becoming more you since you've left." We looked at each other and I felt proud. December had been one of the many hard moments. I had not anticipated that the eight months would be so hard but it was, mixed into life in a small village and many layers of culture shock, as well as culture miracles. I needed to be pushed out my comfort zone, to wake up to rooster crowing as my host mother starts the hour-long breakfast making routine, to trek through the hot, humid Amazonian day delivering medicine to the patients in remote village, to come back home to before sundown to get ready for bed at 7:30PM. I needed to cut away from everything I have assumed of myself and just redefine myself with words from a foreign dictionary. And that is exactly what I did and I could not be more grateful for having this intentional, challenging, soul-searching year.

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Kevin
Male
24 years old
Poughkeepsie, New York
Vassar College

I love Global Citizen Year

10/10

Global Citizen Year is my second family. During my bridge year, I lived in the Amazon Rainforest with a host family and interned at a rural health clinic. I had a great family that consisted of my parents, four siblings, and three dogs (fun fact: They named one of the dogs after me!). I was also surrounded by a great cohort of other fellows who lived in my province. Even after finishing my year in Ecuador, I still keep in contact with my host family (via Facebook) and the other fellows. The bonds I have developed with the other fellows continue to impact me as I start my first year of college. Every other week, I meet up with a fellow who goes to school in my area. The most difficult part for me was during the holiday season. We are not allowed to fly back home (except for emergencies!), so I was extremely homesick.

How can this program be improved?

stronger alum support network

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Amber
Female
24 years old
New York, NY
The New School

Most Transformative Year of My Life

10/10

I went into this program looking to get out of my comfort zone, challenge myself, and do something I'd never done before. My experience in Ecuador shaped me in ways I never thought possible. It was with the constant support and encouragement from Global Citizen Year that made it all possible. My horizons expanded, my world view broadened, but most importantly, at the end of it all, I was able to reflect on the year I had and genuinely be proud of what I had accomplished. Immersing myself into a culture so different from my own proved to have immeasurable value, and I would do it all over again if I could! I missed home, I had trouble communicating at times, but at the end I found my place in a community that accepted me with open arms. Highly recommend this program!

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Abbie
Female
24 years old
Boston, MA
Boston College

Transformative Year

10/10

My year with Global Citizen Year changed me more than I ever have and probably ever will in that period of time. The staff are all great and incredibly supportive in ways that make you grow and learn; they don't just fix it for you. I got a real life experience living with strangers who became my family and working/volunteering in a meaningful way. They do a great job of helping you immerse yourself in your community where you build relationships.

How can this program be improved?

If they had a program for the summer after you've returned home it would definitely help. Most of the fellows have some trouble readjusting and some guidance 2 weeks to a month after they have returned would have been helpful.

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Delia
Female
24 years old
Asheville, NC
Warren Wilson College

recommended

10/10

Incredible support from fellows, team leaders, and all in-country staff. They all contribute positively to the experience and are not over-bearing in the way that they take away anything. A high-immersion experience, and your year is what you put into it. Lots of opportunities and tools are available if you seek them out. It is a growing experience and there are lots of challenges that you will encounter but you are never alone and they make you stronger. You will meet people who will change your life and if you let yourself, you will really fall in love with your life there. It's a really incredible experience that I would do over and over again if I were given the chance.

How can this program be improved?

A longer program duration and less time in trainings/orientations. We had a month long in-country orientation when I think that most of that time could have been used in community making stronger connections and learning Spanish at a faster and more effective pace. I also personally think that we should be in-country until at least May or June rather than getting home to the US in April. I think that the capstone should work differently so that we can get a full "year" of immersion and learning. I know that I felt really cut off leaving in April after only six months in community and arriving home when all my friends were still at college for six more weeks. It was a very lonely and confusing time.

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Lydia
Female
24 years old
Lewisburg, PA
Bucknell University

Changed my world

10/10

I'd never traveled before, and Global Citizen year gave me the chance to leave the east coast for the first time. Even though there was a substantial language barrier at first, I learned so much about the people and about myself. I got to work with students and other professors, and it helped me realize that teaching is indeed my passion.

How can this program be improved?

They're trying to make it fit requirements to count as an academic year, but the strength of the program is that it's a year away from academics. For cohort member to really be able to benefit from their year away from home, it's important to not let academic stresses creep back in. They've got all four (maybe five) years of college for that. For one year let them focus on living life for the sake of living, rather than for getting credit.

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Neil
Male
24 years old
Cupertino, California
Other

Truly Rewarding

10/10

My experience with Global Citizen Year in the Sierra region of Ecuador has opened my eyes to things that would've been impossible to fully comprehend in a traditional academic setting. I had the opportunity to get work experience in a career field I was interested in and immerse myself in a culture and language that both fascinated and excited me. Beyond this many Fellows were able to hit their stride and use their skills in an unconventional but very effective way while living in their homestays. If you're looking for a practical experience that will challenge you and push you towards what you're really capable of, a bridge year is the only way to do it.

How can this program be improved?

As participants in the program we all get to offer our input, even alumni get the chance to do so as well. Most of the things we've suggested have already changed. The program is unique in that your experience is your own, it is different from EVERYONE else's, so if something isn't working usually you can be the one to make that change.

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Maddy
Female
24 years old
Seattle, WA
Stanford University

Most Formative Experience

10/10

I choose Global Citizen Year because it gave me great financial aid, the blogs were so inspiring (the fellows talked about "real-life experiences" that I hadn't had with AP or IB), and I wanted to travel. My expectations were high, but the year ended up to be a lot more than I had ever hoped. I am so revitalized, inspired, passionate and grounded now thanks to the incredible framework of Global Citizen Year. My year with Global Citizen Year has been the best decision of my life so far. I really recommend applying!

How can this program be improved?

The little things that I would change ARE changing - because Global Citizen Year is young and flexible, it is able to bend and shift with ease to create better and more powerful programming. That's what I love - the program itself exemplifies the leadership that it encourages its' fellows to learn.

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Claire
Female
24 years old
United States
Other

Hardest, Most Rewarding Year of My Life

10/10

I chose Global Citizen Year because I knew that I wanted more than college, at least for a while. Although I was terrified of the idea of living so far for so long, I liked the structured curriculum of Global Citizen Year. I liked the idea of a balance between the support system of the cohort and team leader, as well as the independence of living with a host family. After having completed my year in Ecuador, I feel nothing short of honored to a part of such a special group of young people and such an incredible program. This year was perhaps the most challenging of my life and yet, by far the most rewarding and I challenge any interested student to go for it!

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Samuel
Male
24 years old
Nairobi, Kenya
Other

Transformative

10/10

This program is by far one of the best programmes for cultural immersion. They also offer apprenticeships for learning experiences as a young person. I became a part an puzzle of my community, and through that, I was able to learn my fourth language, Spanish.

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Joan
Female
24 years old
Los Angeles, California
University of California- Los Angeles

Perfect Bridge from HS to College

10/10

My bridge year with Global Citizen Year was an incredible experience, not only from what I learned during my year abroad, but also from the insight and perspective I gained upon my return. The work I was doing in Ecuador has provided a meaningful platform for my university coursework that has provided me with a deeper interest, understanding, and outlook on the material I'm learning. I highly recommend a bridge year with Global Citizen Year to any graduating high school senior because it's an investment that makes your college experience that much more valuable.

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Abby
Female
42 years old
Oakland, California
Stanford University

Off the charts!

10/10

Global Citizen Year is the only opportunity that combines world-class leadership training with total immersion in communities around the world. It's not for everyone, but if it's for you, it will change your life.

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Abigail
Female
24 years old
Appleton, Wisconsin
Lawrence University

A once-in-a-lifetime experience

10/10

This program was an absolutely amazing experience! I became friends with some of the most thoughtful and inspiring people I had ever encountered and now have a supportive network of friends from all over the United States. My year in Ecuador was the best experience I could have had after high school, but it was also hands down the most difficult--homesickness, experiencing a different culture and economic setting first-hand, and watching the struggles of my community all made it a difficult year. However, working as an English teacher at an elementary school and at a nature preserve increased my confidence, helped me to become independent and take initiative. I was able to completely immerse myself in Ecuadorian life, become fluent in Spanish (and learn a little Kichwa too). I think about the things I learned in my community, from my host family, and at my apprenticeship daily, and I feel that this experience not only prepared me for college but also taught me how to LIVE each day to its fullest, take chances, and have a positive attitude with regards to just about everything.

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Rural
Female
24 years old
Ohio
Denison University

UNIQUE, one-of-a-kind "Bridge" Year experience

10/10

I was able to integrate into the local community 100%. Global Citizen Year provided the guidance and support that allowed me to become proficient in two languages, gain cultural literacy and and work with village leaders and community members. The service-learning approach and long-term stay in one place are two of the most important assets of the program.

How can this program be improved?

I would make make the summer campaign/fundraising more standardized.

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Emily
Female
24 years old
Bellingham, WA
Western Washington University

best decision I ever made

10/10

Global Citizen Year made me fluent in two languages, helped me discover my passion and future career path, honed my interests in preparation for college, and lead to the formation of some of the most important relationships in my life. Everyone should take a bridge year - preferably with GCY!

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LColl
Female
24 years old
Massachusetts
Tufts University

Best Choice I Ever Made For Myself

10/10

I was immersed in an Ecuadorian community, yet still had fantastic support from the program. Strong college-prep focus, language emphasis, and personal growth. Global Citizen Year is the best way I could have spent my bridge year.

About The Provider

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Global Citizen Year is a unique, international immersion experience that gives driven high school graduates a new perspective of the world and their role in it. Each year Global Citizen Year selects a talented and diverse corps of high school graduates as Fellows, and supports

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