International Development Gap Year in East Africa through Carpe Diem Education

Video and Photos

Introducing: New Semester Program!

We are exploring new frontiers! We're excited to announce a 3-month semester program in Morocco & Spain. If trekking in the Atlas mountains, living with a host family in Marrakech, and working with a NGO focused on supporting the migrant community in Spain sounds interesting to you, dive deeper by clicking the link below.

About

Practice community service and international development in the historical-rich context of post-genocide Rwanda. Discover the sights, sounds, and smells of Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Zanzibar that make East Africa a truly unique destination.

Experiential Education: Track endangered rhinos as part of a conservation team in Uganda. Study sustainable living, farm-to-table food systems, and deepen personal practices such as yoga and meditation during a holistic living retreat.

Community: Collaborate with diverse organizations to assist local communities in education, children’s homes, building projects, women’s empowerment, HIV/AIDS support, sustainability, and environmental conservation.

Intercultural Exchange: Learn about the unique, community-based projects of a local non-profit and volunteer at a rural school for children with special needs. Chat with welcoming host families in Tanzania with your newly-acquired Swahili.

Note: this is a 3-month long semester program.

As a Carpe Diem participant, you'll not only have access to our immersive, service-based programming and stellar staff -- but you can opt to also receive up to 18 college credits (an official transcript from Portland State University) and may be eligible for financial aid. We're one of the only Gap Year providers on the market that offers these options for a nominal fee.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

98%
based on 11 reviews
  • Housing 8.7
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9.8
  • Value 9.4
  • Safety 9.8
Showing 1 - 11 of 11
Default avatar
Adele
10/10

From the bottom of the ocean to the top of the Himalayas

In the past seven months I have swum to the depths of the ocean and climbed up amongst the clouds; I have gained many new friends, a lot of students, a couple of sisters and another Aunt and Uncle; I’ve found experiences to last a lifetime and and a new place to call home; I’ve spent countless hours in various airports and on many different planes and further hours lying in bed sick; I’ve shed countless tears of happiness and sadness and struggle; I’ve let my money flow freely buying gifts and souvenirs and I’ve eaten only dal baht or beans and ugali for the majority of my meals for days on end; I’ve stood in front of classes and hidden from rhinos; I’ve lived in a tiny room with thirteen people and in a five star hotel; I’ve been totally alone in a new place and I’ve been surrounded by loving and supporting friends; I’ve taken endless pictures, written hundreds of journal entries and gained an abundance of fond memories.
My gap year hasn’t been easy but the challenges have been what made it worth it. I sit here filling out college forms and all I can use for my answers are experiences I’ve had on my gap year. I’ve been able to gain a wide range of experience whether it be trekking or scuba diving or teaching or eating with my hands. I doubt anyone in my college has had to live with 12 other people, cook every meal without a fridge or an oven or any such appliance, use a hole in the ground as the one toilet while unconnected from any other place in the world. And you know what, I loved it!
I can say with confidence that my gap year has been the best year of my life. And all of it could not have been possible if it had not been for Carpe Diem Education. I signed up for the Latitudes program excited for the prospect of a whole year of travel and getting to know myself and other cultures but not really sure what I was getting myself into. I made my way through Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania with an AMAZING group of 13 people (with two awesome Overseas Educators) and, after stopping over at home, I put myself on a plane for Nepal where I taught English in the mountains with an organization called Trek to Teach. I learned how to have no personal space and also have a lot of personal space and time to myself. I learned how to effectively problem solve on my own. I learned how to cross the language and cultural boundaries. I learned how to remove myself from the world and focus on the moment and the place where I was. I learned to appreciate certain aspects of home (like food!). I learned how to deal with homesickness and I learned how to deal with coming home (when I didn’t necessarily want to leave). I learned how to make friends in only 4 days. I learned how work with others and work by myself. I learned so much about the world, about myself and about life.
And throughout all of this Carpe Diem was there by my side. My Overseas Educators on my East Africa semester were always there to talk and made it a point to check in often with all of us. They taught us how to independently travel and how to go about volunteering in an appropriate way. In the end I consider them amazing friends not just leaders.
On my Focused Volunteer Placement Carpe Diem made sure to check in with me and give me support if I needed it. They encouraged me to challenge myself and do a program that had a little more work than others and I am so grateful. They helped me find what I was looking for and were always there for questions.
I cannot express in words how thankful I am for Carpe Diem Education. They allowed me to expand my horizons and meet the most amazing people. I have loved my gap year and it is honestly thanks to them that it was so great. So for those considering a gap year I whole-heartedly suggest looking into Carpe Diem Education (and also to simply take the leap and take a gap year because it is so worth it). They have so many amazing options and have the most amazing employees.
Thanks Carpe Diem for everything!
Love,
Adele

How can this program be improved?
I can’t think of anything to be improve upon.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Hadley
10/10

A year worthwhile

My experience with Carpe Diem was life changing. I spent my group semester in East Africa and then returned to Uganda for my latitudes semester. My group semester was spent volunteering at orphanages, learning about local communities, going to yoga and meditation retreats and so much more. Every stop provided new challenges and new learning opportunities that culminated in the most educational, fun, inspiring and transformative semester of my life. I had an amazing group who provided me with so much support along the way and left me with lifelong friends. After 3 months spent in Africa on my group semester I couldn’t imagine spending anywhere else (or going with any mother program) for my independent semester. During group semester I learned so much about traveling and gained so much of my own confidence that I was beyond excited about heading back to Uganda for 3 months. I again was paired with another amazing Carpe student at my site to make even more lasting friendships but the connections I made with my students are incomparable to anything else. I taught at a special needs school in a rural community in the southern highlands and was happier than I could have ever imagined being without running water, or reliable electricity. I got to spend every day with the most amazing kids doing art projects, listening to music and learning so much about happiness. Over the course of my gap year with Carpe I got my scuba certification and have now advanced on and gotten to dive one of the most famous ship wrecks in the world because Carpe gave me the opportunity to get certified. I also have gone on two safaris, rafted the Nile, and met the most amazing and inspiring women from 3 countries in East Africa. I now consider Uganda a lifelong part of me and I will forever be grateful to Carpe for providing me with the opportunity to learn more than ever while outside of a classroom

How can this program be improved?
This program could be improved through an revamp of their college classes and how they are integrated into the semester. The Swahili classes I took on semester were not quite enough to be able to confidently write a paper.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Nanci
8/10

Best Experience of my life!

I had the best time of my life. I was challenged to get out of my comfort zone many times. We went trekking, canoeing, rafting, camping, snorkeling, and scuba diving. We also went on a two day safari! For our student directed travel we stayed four nights at the Uganda Wildlife Education Center. So if you love animals this is the trip for you!
We also participated in a few volunteer projects. We helped paint a kitchen and tutor students at the Mufindi Children's Village. In Uganda we volunteered at school called Special Needs Education Center (SNEC) and at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.
We stayed with three homestays. We got to practice our Swahili skills with our homestay families and we learned more about the East African culture.

To be honest, I will never forget this amazing experience or the people.

-Nanci

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Elijah
10/10

If not now, when?

I took part in the Spring 2012 East Africa Semester and not only do I not regret that decision but my appreciation for that trip continues to grow. I was uninterested in school from the start and barely made it through high school, did not even apply to any colleges, and did not plan on continuing my education. Then I heard about Carpe Diem Education and I decided to take part and it was worth it. I learned to love learning, the rewards of giving back, the freedoms of responsibility and independence, and the wonders of travel. I made friends and memories I will have for the rest of my life, found passion that has led me through school, and developed values that are central to my life.
Carpe Diem is a well run organization with skillful passionate leaders and I am sure all of their trips are just as amazing as East Africa and I strongly suggest everyone who has the opportunity to partake in the trip that calls them.

How can this program be improved?
I really cannot think of many things that could be improved about this program. Obviously it would be nice if it was cheaper but with everything that is included in the cost and the journey itself the trip is already a great deal!
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Kaitlyn
10/10

The most enlightening three months of my life

The semester I spent in East Africa was one like no other. Not only did I meet a tremendous group of people, I also met myself. I chose to do a gap semester following high school and before college, during a trying time when I found myself questioning decisions made and my future. Carpe Diem created an itinerary aligning with my passions and field of interest, public health. The time I spent with my peers completing projects and truly immersing ourselves in the community (hello spending three weeks camping in the bush and on safari right away!) solidified the path I wanted to take professionally. While that direction changed a bit over the years, the memories and experiences I took away from my semester stay with me and have played a role in shaping the person I am today. The primary focus for these semesters is cultural immersion and connecting with the community via volunteer projects. This was true indeed but of course we had some play. Even then, we did activities that I would have never dreamed of doing, like white water rafting in the Nile. Carpe Diem gave me the opportunity of a lifetime and I will cherish the people and memories I made along the way.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Dayle
10/10

East Africa Experience

Carpe Diem does an absolutely wonderful job creating the schedule for this trip. It has an incredible balance of fun and work that will change your views on the world and help you grow as an individual. The East Africa trip in particular is so great for someone who loves working with kids, and experiencing true outdoors. Definitely be ready for some hard work using hoes and machetes, but know every minute is worth it. I would recommend this trip to anyone!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Claire
10/10

Most amazing and eye opening trip!

I just got home from three amazing months in East Africa. This trip was filled with so much love and great opportunities. We were able to volunteer, do outdoor/ adventure stuff, and see amazing things like our safari! It was the perfect balance. I have gained so much from this trip and I am forever grateful!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
nicole
10/10

a semester of self discovery and adventure

I had an amazing experience with Carpe Diem. I was very fortunate to be placed in a group of enthusiastic and unique students and leaders. We all learned a lot from each other and encouraged each other to grow. A highlight of the trip was working with youth at an orphanage in Tanzania because they were so welcoming to us and accepted us into their community.

How can this program be improved?
This could be improved by making even boy to girl ratios so that there can be more diversity in the groups of students.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
New
10/10

First Rate Program!

My daughter went on the Uganda/Rwanda/Tanzania Gap Program in Fall 2013. She had previously traveled between sophmore and junior year to Costa Rica with another provider so had some basis for comparison. From her perspective, this was a superior trip, with many advantages over her prior experience: 1) the group was smaller with only 7 students and 2 adult leaders; 2) she felt the Carpe Diem philosophy was much more respectful about integrating into the local culture, such as appropriate attire. Highlights of the trip included incredible service projects working in an AIDs orphanage, a construction project at a home for disabled children, a 4-day safari which brought them up close to the "big four" wildlife, several days in Rwanda where they learned about the genocide, and the grand finale of getting their PADI certification in Zanzibar. The Carpe Diem leaders are very experienced, very in tune with their students, and have a way of connecting with these young adults in a special way, instilling a level of trust and camaraderie. They give the students the responsibility of negotiating travel or other arrangement so that they learn how to be savvy travelers. My daughter is now confident enough to travel other places abroad more independently. First class organization, and while it may seem pricey, they run an excellent program.

How can this program be improved?
Wish they could have done more homestays, and the one she did do was disappointing because the family didn't interact at all with my daughter and her fellow traveler. It was clear they were doing it for the income rather than the experience of a cultural exchange.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
RebeccaKuntz
10/10

Sieze the Journey

I would recommend Carpe Diem Education East Africa program to anyone who wants to embark on an amazing 3 month journey in an incredible continent and region while learning about the community around you, and the person you are. I learned more about myself during the journey than I ever have before and I deeply cherish the time away from electronics and internet to fully involve myself in the moment and the work we were doing. The other students and leaders I traveled with became family and left with a very strong bond and support system. The leaders of my trip were incredible and supported us physically, emotionally, medically, and helped us develop and learn some amazing skills. I highly recommend this program for any student who wants to jump out of their comfort zone and into an amazing african culture and experience.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Emily
10/10

BEST TRIP

I had the best experience of my life going on this trip. I was able to volunteer with a multitude of Non-Governmental Organizations and from it learned what I want to do with my future, while receiving college credit. We taught classes to children, painted a school building, played with children infected with HIV/AIDS, and volunteered at a health clinic. Besides volunteering we went on a Safari, rafted down the Nile River, and became SCUBA certified. My group also had a few educational opportunities. We went to the Rwanda Genocide Memorial, and lived with a Exiled Black Panther in Tanzania. I always felt supported by my leaders. They helped me become a more independent person through the leadership roles students receive while abroad.

How can this program be improved?
I had some issues with my group while being abroad. At times it proved to be really difficult, but I still had an amazing time, and I learned a lot about how to work with people through it. Also, on this trip you are kind of roughing it. You are in Africa so things are not the nicest. But everything is doable.
Yes, I recommend

Interviews

Meet the Alumni

Meet the Staff

About Carpe Diem Education

Experiential education. Community. Intercultural exchange.

...it's how we connect and give back to the global communities we interact with. It's how we're redefining what it means to embark on a meaningful gap year abroad. Learn a foreign language,...