Carpe Diem Education - Latitudes Gap Year Volunteer Placement

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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

Dive into a truly unique Gap Year experience. Choose one of our 3-month group semesters during the Fall, followed by a 3-day orientation in Portland, Oregon before embarking on a 3-month focused volunteer placement (FVP) in the Spring.

On your focused volunteer placement, commit to a local community through extensive service—independently or with a 2-to-3 student cohort. With reputable contacts in over 20 countries, the world is your oyster! Receive one-on-one mentorship from your Latitudes Director to help you select a volunteer placement that inspires you.

Get scuba certified while protecting coral reefs in Southern Thailand. Support vulnerable children in Tanzania through HIV prevention education. Learn about permaculture while working on an organic farm in Nicaragua. The best part of it all? You can earn up to 36 quarter college credits—all while connecting with communities across the globe and participating in meaningful volunteering, adventure, and cultural exchange.

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

100%
based on 3 reviews
  • Housing 9.3
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 10
  • Value 9.7
  • Safety 10
Showing 1 - 3 of 3
Default avatar
Shay
10/10

Take a Year to Change Your Life

We read often of the benefits of gap years, how they are life-changing, prepare young adults for college, and often termed "the best year ever." While these claims hold much legitimacy, few programs can unequivocally fulfill all of them; that is, except Carpe Diem Education.

I was lucky enough to find Carpe Diem for the year after my high school graduation, 2010-2011, and can to this day stand by them as indisputably the best gap year program internationally. I could never imagine how my life would appear today had I not participated in the Latitudes Program, spending one full semester in Central America on a group trip and another semester on an independent internship in Ecuador. I gained essential skills in organization, writing, budgeting, and leadership; I tackled fears head-on while cultivating an insatiable curiosity; I grew more confident in my abilities scholastically and personally; I became completely fluent in another language equivalent to the level of my mother tongue; I created life-long friendships with other participants and locals to this day.

Carpe Diem stood by me, answering my plethora of questions before the trip, appeasing my nervous mother during the trip, and accommodating me to practice my religious observances as a modern-orthodox Jew throughout the program. The coordinators supported me in arranging my internship placement, while simultaneously giving me enough space to be independent too. My trip leaders on the group trip were inspiring, confronting, and were the catalysts toward driving the personal developments of participants as we all pushed our comfort zone together with volunteer work that included arduous physical labor, language school, teaching English, and working with wildlife. My independent internship at an Inca ruin Hacienda gave me ample opportunity to dabble into a variety of fields, including farming, local cooking, horseback riding, translating, writing, and being a tour guide to hone my interests for my future career and quench my diverse interests. Carpe Diem pushed me emotionally and physically every day to find comfort through discomfort, to understand and be proactive in my surroundings, and to cultivate empathy.

I was also able to earn college credit through Portland State University (PSU), which was an incredible opportunity considering that at the time of my gap year, I was unsure where I would attend school.

Today, I have finished a degree from an ivy-league institution, consider myself a world traveler (whatever that really means), and am confident in following where the wind blows for my next steps. And for my accomplishments, strengths, attitude, determination, courage, and drive, I will forever be indebted to Carpe Diem. If you want a program that will open you up and allow you to carve out who you hope to be, to gain inspiration for your future, to truly make a difference, to build life-long relationships, and to push your comfort zone, look no further, because you’ve arrived at the best possible place.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Jack
10/10

Welcome to the jungle!!

Getting on the flight was one of the hardest and scariest things I have done. Finding yourself in a foreign place with no one but yourself is both terrifying and incredible experience, but one I will never forget. I found myself two months prior to leaving, not knowing where to go or what to do for the second semester of my gap year. I felt lost. I went to one my group leaders on my semester through Africa and asked him "What he thought?" It turned into a discussion about passion, spirituality, and adventure that I will never forget. Because of him I found myself arriving at one of the greatest places I have even been. Parque Ambue Ari. He told me many stories and prepared me for the lifestyle, the work, and the people there and I could not have been happier. I remember arriving to closest town, having everything written out in my journal and using all my skills I acquired through my first semester, it was getting dark and I had just grabbed the next bus out. I told the driver El Parque, and we were on our way. 45 min later I arrive, at the dead of night into this desolate looking camp located in the jungle. This place was my home for the next 4 months. My life comprised of me waking every morning at 6:30 in the morning and beginning work at 7. Every morning the volunteers would complete our daily and weekly task, which would consist of cleaning bathrooms to feeding Tapirs. At 8 we would all file into the comedor(dining hall), and have our breakfast of eggs and bread. Then it was off into the jungle for the morning. Each volunteer was assigned one or more cat to work with. I had Maggie, a Puma in the mornings, and Ru a Jaguar in the afternoons. Each day was a new and unbelievable experience with these animals, and everyday your bond with them would grow stronger and stronger. The work consisted of enriching there everyday lives, feeding, cleaning, clearing trails, etc. The conditions were not easy, and it was hard at times. But it was worth it, and the people you were with were there for the same reasons, you all loved and wanted to help these amazing animals! The people at the park were great, and I created so many great bonds with so many different people from around the world. Before arriving I was a shy kids, and many people at the camp commented on how much I had changed from my first 2-3 weeks at the park, to this outgoing, crazy, fun loving, weird kid. The change I saw in myself was great, and I have Carpe Diem to thank for that! Following my first three months at the park, I left and traveled around Bolivia a month meeting new people along the way, and making some new and great friends. I biked down death road, went swimming in Lake Titicaca, relaxed in hot spring under the stars in salar de uyuni, and so much more! The skills I had acquired on my first semester not only taught me about myself and the world around me, but how to live as nomad and have fun doing it! After traveling Bolivia for a month I decided to head back to the park for my last month, because It was the greatest place I went on my travels. Heading back to the park felt like I was heading home! Now I am home writing this review working as much as I can to save money for my next big adventure. I can't thank Carpe Diem enough for the time and effort the put into making this year the best I have had. Please if your reading this take a gap year through them, you wont regret it!

How can this program be improved?
If I had to improve this program I would have more people back in the office doing research on the students seconds semester Focused volunteer program. Having more staff back home to student ratio, helping find the best fit for them would ensure a even better second semester abroad!
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Sharon
10/10

Go for the GAP!

Our daughter found Carpe Diem (offered through Portland State University) while searching for Gap year programs online. Initially my husband and I were skeptical about sending our 17 year old half way around the world. We really didn't know much about Gap programs at all. Turns out Carpe Diem has been running Gap year programs for a long time, and are very highly regarded. So Evin applied, went though the interview process, and was accepted for the South Pacific group. All of her financial aid applied to this program and she received college credit as well. I truly can't say enough good things about the Carpe staff in Portland--they are ALL simply excellent. We had fairly frequent calls to them prior to Evin's departure in September of 2013. Our questions were answered promptly and thoroughly. The group toured Fiji, New Zealand and Australia for 3 months. There were some challenges along the way....minor homesickness.....a bit more heat and cold than she was prepared for.....but Evin had the time of her life and formed lasting friendships with the entire group. She returned home in December for about 7 weeks and then began her Latitudes (volunteer) semester in far southern Thailand to complete a marine conservation internship. She flew there on her own, took the ferry to Koh Tao, and began her biggest adventure. We were relieved once she arrived safely, She has a daily job at New Heaven Dive, has rented an apartment, LOVES the food, and now has friends from all over the world. She is still in Thailand for another month, and has had lost luggage, her debit card compromised, had to get her visa extended, and suffered a bit of food poisoning. None of these things particularly fazed her has her first Carpe semester taught her to be patient, independent, and resourceful. She regards Carpe Diem as the "best decision I've ever made in my whole life". We feel exactly the same about it! If we had other children we would send them ALL to Carpe Diem!

How can this program be improved?
I can't actually think of one thing I would change. Carpe and the staff are as close to perfect as it gets.
Yes, I recommend

About Carpe Diem Education

Experiential education. Community. Intercultural exchange.

This is how we connect with and learn from the global communities we engage with—and how we are redefining what it means to embark on a meaningful gap year abroad. Learn a new language, live...