Global Citizen Year - Gap Year Program Ecuador

Video and Photos

Photo by Shantanu Starick
Global Citizen Year - Ecuador
Global Citizen Year - Ecuador
Global Citizen Year - Ecuador
Global Citizen Year - Ecuador
Global Citizen Year - Ecuador
Global Citizen Year - Ecuador

About

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!

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.

Reviews

9.81 Rating
based on 21 reviews
  • Housing 9.3
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 9.7
  • Value 9.2
  • Safety 9.4
Showing 1 - 8 of 21
Santiago
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

What my "Bridge Year" opened my eyes to!

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
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Learning How to Grow

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.
Default avatar
Ian
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

We Are the Tide

"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!"

What would you improve about this program?
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.
Default avatar
Elizabeth
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Decision Ever.

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.

Default avatar
Not
6/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great for some, not for all

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)

What would you improve about this program?
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.

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

What I Needed

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.

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

I love Global Citizen Year

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.

What would you improve about this program?
stronger alum support network
Default avatar
Amber
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Most Transformative Year of My Life

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!