Kivu Gap Year Program: Destinations Across the Globe
96% Rating
(27 Reviews)

Kivu Gap Year Program: Destinations Across the Globe

By Kivu Gap Year   Reviews (27)   96% Rating

Benefits:

+ 900 hours of internship experience
+ 150 hours of reflective leadership training
+ 9 hours of general college credit available
+ Cultural Intelligence Training
+ Emphasis on Exploration of Identity (Who am I?)
+ Experiential Learning with Home Stays
+ Orientation and Re-Entry Training to begin and end the program
+ Life Thesis Paper and Presentation at the culmination of the program

Vision: Vocational Discovery in a Global Community

Mission: We prepare college-bound high school graduates for success in higher education through domestic and international learning adventures.

Sample August to May Itinerary:
  • Pre-departure Orientation
    • Breckenridge, Colorado
  • Term 1: Urban America Experience (choose one)
    • Denver, Colorado
    • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • Washington DC
  • Holiday Break
    • Mid-December through first week of January
  • January Term (choose one)
    • Middle East Experience in Jordan, Israel, & Palestine
    • South America Experience in Chile
  • Term 2 (choose one)
    • International Experience in Rwanda or Chile
      • Rwanda includes Mount Kilimanjaro hike
      • Chile includes Patagonia hike
  • Re-Entry Training
    • Breckenridge, Colorado
  • Celebration Ceremony
    • Denver, Colorado
Locations
Africa » Rwanda
South America » Chile » Santiago
Asia » Jordan » Amman
Asia » Israel » Jerusalem
Asia » Palestine
Program Tags
Adventure Travel
Hands-On Learning
Volunteer Abroad
Length
1-3 Months
3-6 Months
6-12 Months
Timeframe
Academic Year
Fall
Spring
Winter
Accommodation
Apartment
Host Family
Hostel
Hotel
Inclusions
Accommodation
Activities
Airfare
Airport Transfers
Equipment
Meals
SIM cards
Transportation
Travel Insurance
Exclusions
Domestic Airfare
Primary Language
English
Age Max
17
Cost Description
Program cost includes all room, board, program activities, and international airfare to each new destination. Most students carry less than $500 with them for extra expenses throughout the program.

Students should contact the KIVU Gap Year office directly to inquire about fundraising opportunities to off-set program fees.

Rating Values

  • Housing
    86%
  • Support
    92%
  • Fun
    99%
  • Value
    93%
  • Safety
    94%
  • Growth
    80%
  • Support
    100%
  • Fun
    80%
  • Housing
    100%
  • Safety
    100%

Program Reviews (27)

Alexis
Female
22 years old
Gallatin
Vanderbilt University

Life-Changing Year

9/10

This gap year absolutely changed the trajectory of my life. As a senior in high school, I had already put down my deposit to go to UVA with an Air Force ROTC Scholarship, but I was still struggling to reconcile the fact that I was expected to have my future all figured out by the time I was 18. My mom heard about the gap year on the radio, of all places, and told me about it off-handedly. I ended up applying behind my parents' back (so I didn't worry them about potentially changing my college plans). After much prayer and reflection, I felt confident that I was being called to the gap year, and I finally talked to my parents about it. At first, my dad was particularly against the idea. He had been in the military, didn't like the idea of the unknown, and was sure it was a bad idea. In what I consider a Divine series of events, my dad ended up flying to Denver for a business conference, but the meeting was cancelled as soon as he arrived. He decided to spend his time in the area by going to meet with one of the leaders of the Kivu Gap Year so that he could tell them I wouldn't be attending, thus ending the discussion once and for all. However, his conversation with one of the leaders completely changed his mind, and he called me crying to say that I could go on the gap year. This all happened to be the same day that I had finally laid down my ago and asked God to change my dad's heart so that I could go with Kivu. Anyways, the year didn't disappoint; through experience, relationships, and hard work, I learned so much about the God of the nations, the world, and myself. I left the year feeling much more confident in who I am and who I want to be. Instead of joining the Air Force after graduation, I (again through Divine means) got a full scholarship to Vanderbilt, where I now attend. The Kivu Gap Year balances structure and independence so that students can safely grow while simultaneously learning how to handle their budding adulthood. I'm forever thankful for it.

How can this program be improved?

While I know that a large lesson of the year is patience and giving up the facade of total control in our lives, I also think Kivu sometimes has excessive inefficiencies that could be improved through financial planning/prudence, increased communication (among leaders, students, and parents), and more oversight. Also, while I love how much independence Kivu allows the students, I sometimes fear that there's too much trust that can allow for poor decisions.

Zac
Male
21 years old
NORMAN
University of Arkansas- Fayetteville

Review of KIVU Gap Year

10/10

One of my greatest memories was our first few days in the Philippines, we landed in Manila the first day. The organization we were working with, ICM, one of their people unfortunately failed to have our travel plans finalized. Our leader Cole Crawford planned the trip however, our flight to Bohol was to leave at six in the morning the next day. We learned this at 11 that night. none the less we got up at four in the morning made our way to the airport and headed to the island of Bohol. once we got there we were met with a van, that seated around six people. The only problem was we had 12 people in our group. so we quite literally piled into the back of the van and found our way to the field office for ICM on the island. Now I realize this doesn't quite sound like the best story but the beautiful thing was we didn't complain or anything like that. It kind of represented our whole year because it was hectic and wild and just a little unpredictable.

Jonathan
Male
20 years old

A formative experience

9/10

The KIVU gap year has been transformative to my life. Coming out of my senior year of high school I was never sure what I wanted to do with my life, or what my place in the world was. However after my time with KIVU all that has changed.
While there is a still a lot of uncertainty in my life, like what I want to do for college (let alone after college) the way in which KIVU helped me was by teaching me how to understand, manage, and embrace the turmoil within myself and the world around me in order to live a fuller, happier, more meaningful life.
That came in many forms, including all the travel we did, seeing the streets of South Philly and the people that inhabit them, the hills of Rwanda, and its struggle to emerge from colonalisation and genocide as a strong, United leader among nations, to the political and spiritual turmoil within the Middle East, and Learning the heart of Latin American identity in Bolivia.
Beyond all the amazing and eye opening travels that I participated in, I learned more about myself through the classes we took, and the relationships I made with the other students, my hosts and my leaders.
I feel like I've matured as a person, ready to take on the physical, emotional and intellectual hardships that will come with living life and trying to make it more livable for me and everyone else.

Blair
Female
22 years old
Marietta, Georgia
Georgia State University

Kilimanjaro

10/10

While on the KIVU Gap Year, we had the chance to climb the tallest freestanding mountain in the world, Mt Kilimanjaro. Looking back now, the 7 day trek up this
Mountain was the biggest test of my faith thus far. I was born with severe asthma, induced by allergen and exercise induced. We came to Tanzania from Rwanda, which is basically sea level and I was completely unprepared and untrained. As the days of our hike went up, the number of my fellow KIVU students continuing to the summit went down. But I had faith that The Lord would take me where I was meant to go, even if that meant 19,000 feet up, without the help of an oxygen tank and WAY out of my comfort zone. I prayed through psalm 23, speaking "The Lord is my shepherd" every. single. step. of every single day and was forced to put my entire life in his hands, literally, because with little oxygen and lots of hiking, an asthma attack could have been deadly. I know it sounds dramatic but this is the truth!! But boy did God remain faithful to me. I only had to use my inhaler at the start of our 5-10 hour hikes ( for reference I can barely run on the treadmill for a solid 5 minutes or walk up multiple floors without using my inhaler a second time ) fast-forward through the toughest, most beautiful, humbling 7 days of my life + there I am standing at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, solely on the strength of my savior and the encouragement and prayers of my team, leaders, family and friends. It was to this day one of the most surreal moments of my life. I could have never had this, or any of the other life changing experiences I had abroad if it wasn't for the KIVU Gap year & for that I am forever grateful!

How can this program be improved?

I personally believe God is in the absolute midst of the decisions made by KIVU staff as well as the leaders, so although there were things I didn't totally like, no experience was so messed up or bad that I did not learn from it in some way!

Summer
Female
24 years old
Denver, CO
University of Colorado- Denver

A Catalyst for Growth

9/10

The KIVU Gap Year was an invaluable launching pad for me in regards to my cultural competency, social responsibility, and chosen profession. The exposure to novel (for me) ideas and experiences started a process in my life that has continued to cultivate growth. I am more mature, better equipped for engagement in my community, and able to bring the eclectic experiences from Gap Year to any discussion or environment I enter. The Gap Year reoriented my perception from one of myopic, self-concerned focus, to one that is able to understand the need of the world and discern my responsibility and relationship to that need.

The emphasis the KIVU Gap Year has on actively stretching and challenging its participants makes this program an extraordinary and unique choice for students. This program inherently creates and fosters leaders. I would not recommend it to those who are seeking a carefree, unregulated, or typical travel experience. I would recommend it to those who are seeking a demanding, tremendously meaningful, and transformational life experience.

Ashleigh
Female
24 years old
Chicago
North Park University

Foundational Experience

10/10

This experience left me with life long friends and immense personal growth. The memories I've made and the adventures we went on I will cherish forever. I'm so thankful I made the choice to go on this journey as a scared and lost senior in high school.

Taylor
Female
21 years old
Austin, TX
University of Texas- Austin

Why KIVU Gap Year was the best choice of my life

9/10

KIVU Gap Year helped me discover my true self and my passions. I met so many amazing people in every destination with stories that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
When we made it to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro I realized that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. I saw the world so differently from that peak but I also had a sense of self-belief that I had never felt before. I am who I am today because of KIVU Gap Year. I'm stronger, more confident, and more understanding of life all around me.

How can this program be improved?

I would find better housing for the students with host-families.

Madison
Female
22 years old
Tyler, TX

Don't Hold Back

10/10

The Kivu Gap year Program, is in short the greatest choice I have made.

As a high student I struggled with picking the "right" college for me. That's when I came across the Gap Year program. I had heard about it before and dreamed of experiencing what others had but thought "it's just a dream." As a senior I printed out the application, printed off reviews and facts and filled out my application and presented the idea to my parents. Speaking from experience parents usually need a little more convincing then their adventurous daughter, but given the choice I know they would send me again in a heart beat.

This program is unlike any program I have ever heard of. From the beginning you are surround with others from around the country that begin to expand your cultural knowledge and view the world outside the one you were raised in (which is GREAT thing). The program then invites you to the city where you learn your independence in a safe environment. I can honestly say through all six countries, and climbing Mt. Kili those months were the safest I have felt in any situation to date. They train you to be aware, they train you to be a safe traveler.

Host families abroad change you beyond any words could describe. They introduce a new cultural and teach you about their way of life that not only brings you to appreciate what you have but what is to come. The internships is just a PLUS. Every morning in Rwanda I was so excited for the day to come. I made friends with locals that had smiles I will cherish forever. I learned how to love others in ways I didn't know I could.

I don't think I can ever explain in words why everyone in the world should experience this program, besides just do it and don't hold back because it will change your life. I graduated from the gap year program in May 2014 and now in September 2015 I am STILL learning things from the program and using what I learned in my college town. Things that I never thought would interest me, do. Passions that I didn't have before are leaping from chest. It was the best time of my life, and continues to be my greatest lesson.

Kaitlyn
Female
20 years old
VA
Liberty University

Go and See

8/10

Gap Year changed my life in every way I did't expect it to. I was pushed and challenged in ways I've never been challenged before. The real life, real world experience and perspective I gained this past year simply cannot be replicated in any classroom or church building. I'm so thankful I got to go and see...
Throughout this trip, there were many highs and lows; moments that I never want to forget and moments that felt like a trial by fire. When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego faced their fiery furnace in Daniel 3, they demonstrated that they had placed their faith not in the outcome of the situation, not in what God would do, but rather their faith was in the person of God, in His character. After gap year, I stand able to boldly echo their declaration of: no matter what happens, I know God is faithful. I have seen His consistency with my own eyes. No matter where I found myself in the world or what crazy, unexpected situation I was in, God was there.
I learned to rely on the Lord in a very real way. Here in the United States where we are taught and highly encouraged to be self-sufficient, the concept of relying on God can be hard to grasp. However, when placed in situations where we truly realize our own insufficiency, our desperate need for God and others is revealed. It was incredibly humbling to find myself in such situations all throughout the gap year, whether it was hiking through the night in a blizzard on top of Mt. Kilimanjaro or working long days in the tropical humidity of the Philippines with the ultra poor...
All this to say, if you're looking for something easy, don't sign up, but if you are willing to take a step of great courage, to be truly broken down, if you let Him, God will use those broken pieces to to piece together deep passions, life-altering perspectives, and real perseverance.

Hannah
Female
21 years old
College Station, Texas

JUST DO IT

10/10

The Kivu Gap Year can completely change your life. Kivu is unique in that it specifically creates a space for you to ask difficult questions about your faith and about who you are. They give you tools and vocabulary to begin trying to explain questions you have never even thought to ask, while providing you with people and resources to guide you through the beautiful mess that is discovering faith and self.

The people I was exposed to during the domestic portion of the program were so different than any I had come in contact with before, and probably never would have had I gone straight to college. But, no doubt, I learned more about community and family from the homeless men and women I got to serve on the streets of Denver than I ever could have in Math 167.

The sheer adventure that is going abroad will shake you up in and of itself. The experiences you have will leave you in awe and exhausted in the best way. The people you meet abroad, whether they be Christians or not, will teach you so much about love and humanity and what it truly means to follow Jesus.

The Gap Year will push you further than you thought, dreamed, or probably ever wanted to go. The people you meet and the unique opportunities you get cannot be matched.

My favorite part of the Gap Year was the time I spent in the Middle East. I was in complete wonder and amazement at the people and culture I came in contact with. Those people and culture taught me so much about my faith and what if means for me to follow Jesus. Everyday since returning home from gap year I find ways to connect my experiences in “normal life” to my experiences while on gap year. The fruits of the experiences I had never cease, and I learn new things each day that tie what God was saying to me then to now.

If you have even the inkling that you should take a gap year, DO IT! I promise you won’t regret it.

Caroline
Female
21 years old
Atlanta, GA
University of Georgia

Phenomenal Gap Year Program

10/10

Kivu Gap Year has built a one of a kind experience for high school graduates. The program is designed to stretch you outside your comfort zone and ask you the tough questions all while under the guidance and support of an amazing staff. My perspectives changed and my idea of the world and people in it were altered. I was thrown into so many new situations, with new people who taught me more than I could have ever learned in a year of college. It was the unexpected conversations with people so different from myself and the new places so contrasting from where I grew up, that taught me the most. I began to learn how to live in community and what real community is supposed to look like. I learned how to respect and love people different than myself. And a huge thing I began to discover was where I belong in this enormous world and what my calling may be.

Kivu stands apart from other gap year programs because of the world class staff and the students that they draw in. They care about every individual that is a part of the program so deeply which I found to be so vital for growth this past year.
With Kivu you'll go to some pretty incredible places and do some pretty incredible things and for sure have some incredible memories. That said, the highlights of the year will be the people you meet along the way who will impact your life and journey! I would recommend this program to any individual who is open to being challenged in their faith, is willing to be pushed outside of your comfort zone and wants to experience a plethora of cultures and adventures!!

Megan
Female
21 years old
Stillwater, Oklahoma
Oklahoma State University

Would do it again in a heart beat

10/10

the KIVU gap year challenged me to be a better person, one who loves unconditionally and without borders. You learn to live in community with people who might not speak the same language, live in the same country or have similar background stories; you learn that you don't have to have things in common with people to form friendships, all you need to be is intentional. You learn to love God and love others the way Jesus spoke about, they way everyone should live. The program and the team did not force ideas on you about your faith but rather guided you and helped you explore your faith yourself. The internships you get placed with, no matter if they suit your interests or not, are incredible, through my internship in Philadelphia I unearthed my passion for international and special needs kids. You learn that being outside of your comfort zone is the best way to grow and learn more about yourself and the world around you. Gap year helped me grow in a multitude of ways, I have become a better student, I care more about school and my studies and realize the weight grades carry you through life. I have become a better family member and friend, really trying to be intentional with my loved ones. Even five months later, I am realizing things I learned on my gap year constantly. I would do gap year again in a heartbeat.

Take a gap year, you won't regret it! not once!!

Lucas
Male
21 years old
Birmingham, Alabama
Samford University

Can't be the same

9/10

While I lived in Rwanda I experienced a wall of culture shock, and struggled to move on. I was lonely and missing being home. However, thanks to my awesome KIVU leaders, they helped me take advantage of this time and use it for good by finding out more about myself and learn to thrive in my own personality. I learned to embrace the differences between me and others, but be able to enjoy new environments because of the hard questions about myself and my faith I was encouraged to answer while abroad. My leaders played a significant role in helping me get to this point by giving me guidance and helping me wrestle with these life altering questions.

Courtney
Female
21 years old
Fayetteville, AR
University of Arkansas- Fayetteville

Boldest, best year of my life

10/10

The Kivu Gap year program is unlike anything you'll ever do. I was pushed out of my comfort zone in the most beautiful of ways, learned how to live in community and found friends who will be my people forever, and gained a better understanding of the world around me and where God can be found in everyday life. Wether it was in Urban America (I was in Denver), or the second semester of travel (living with a Rwandan host family, hiking Mt Kilimanjaro, exploring the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan, seeing the exact places Jesus performed his ministry, or swimming with whale sharks in the Philippines), I grew more as a person than I could have ever prepared for. The Kivu team took my peers and I into each location with no expectations, but rather the freedom to find our individuality within a global setting and explore our faith in a genuine and bold way. I learned how to make each moment in my life hold excitement and purpose, I learned that life isn't gonna be completely wonderful if I try to plan it myself, and that there is so much more out there than the American Dream. This program taught me how to immerse myself into cultures and be open minded, how to love the 'least of these' like Christ did, and how to live fully; any future travel or city living I'll experience has been made so much greater because of the things I learned at Kivu. I could go anywhere in the world (wether that be Europe or a classroom) with confidence and understanding, and this year has forever changed the way that I see the world and interact with others. I've grown more into myself and who God has called me to be. I've grown as a follower of Christ, as a student, as a sister and daughter, as a friend, and simply as a human being. It's now been a year since I ventured off on this journey, and I can genuinely say that as I'm now in college, I continue to learn things from my Gap Year every day. I'm so thankful for this program and for the way they take students out of their comfort zone and into the great big world.

Do Kivu Gap Year!! You won't regret it.

How can this program be improved?

This program is constantly growing and improving, so any changes I would have suggested seem to have been revised. There's definitely a lot of trial and error, in the best sense of the phrase

Luke
Male
21 years old
Searcy, Arkansas
Ouachita Baptist University

Life changing experience

9/10

I never realized how much this would change my testimony! I recently spoke to a group of students about my gap year. I didn't use notes and I didn't need to! I spoke on faith and about how traveling the world can open your eyes to some of the hardest things you'll ever see but will increase your faith and understanding in a whole new level! Getting to be at different levels with professors and friends, new or old, because they want to know your story is a weird but incredibly gratifying feeling. I got so much feedback just based on stories I told. Not technically a story but really a major way in which I finally understood how much that gap year truly effected me.

How can this program be improved?

Sometimes flights are long and schedules can be annoying. This is both good and bad because some of those times are the memories that cherish the most.

Cailey
Female
21 years old
Stillwater, Oklahoma
Oklahoma State University

The Heart of Education

10/10

Recently I've wondered what my freshman year would have looked like if I didn't do gap year. Maybe I would have joined a sorority or gone to more parties or cared less about some classes...or at least been more relatable. Who knows? There's no way of telling. Even with all these thoughts lingering in my mind, I have no regrets taking gap year.
Through the staff, friends, and hosts I've met through Kivu, I have gained a different perspective of the world. I have had hundreds of conversations with hundreds of different backdrops, and I remember them all very vividly because there's hardly ever a conversation during gap year that somehow doesn't change you. My leaders could not have been more perfect for the job. Josh and Dru are two of the most kind and empathetic people I have ever met, but they remain real and true to the hardships of life. They don't sugar coat things which is important in the process of "self discovery" (that sounds so cheesy).
My parents had a lot of fears for me when I left for gap year, but I never felt in any danger at any point in time. I struggled with high anxiety for most of life, and over the process of being pushed into the world alone, I have learned to be alone and be okay with it. I found the peace of walking around downtown Philadelphia just eating a donut and listening to music alone, or taking a solo moto ride in Rwanda. There is so much to be said about the importance of solitude when it comes to fighting anxiety, and gap year gave me no choice but to find that value.
I believe that the heart of education is education of the heart. I'm positive my freshman year of college would have looked much different without having done gap year. I have gained perspective on what school is truly about. I now face days with purpose because I've had to experience life on my own. I owe who I am today to Kivu.

How can this program be improved?

I would love to see Kivu expand and make their gap year more customizable. Wouldn't it be so cool to plan your own gap year program?

Lainey
Female
23 years old
Colorado
Colorado Christian University

Once in a lifetime experience I will never forget

10/10

Best and hardest year of my life hands down. The things I got to encounter on a day to day basis were indescribable and I will never forget the relationships I got to experience and create. Taking a year off to see the world and see where I fit into it all really helped shape and mold me into the person I am today, and I don't think I would be on the same path as I am today if I did not take this great leap of faith. Kivu is very intentional about every place you travel to and the things you learn in each specific place. It is a challenge, but so much growth comes from it.

Brian
Male
23 years old
Columbia, Missouri
University of Missouri- Columbia

Kivu Gap Year

9/10

This was the most incredible experience I have ever had. Going into college with around-the-world-knowledge is something that will set you apart from other students academically, socially and spiritually. There real world experience that you gain in this program can be compared to nothing. Each and every day brings a new unique experience that you could not get doing anything else.

Meghan
Female
23 years old
Boulder, Colorado
University of Colorado- Boulder

Incredible!

10/10

The Kivu Gap Year was by far one of the best experiences of my entire life. My internship in Denver taught me a lot about the struggles of people in first world countries that i wasn't really aware of, and I am happy still work with my organization I interned with even though it's been three years. Traveling abroad was incredible. It definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone, but in a good way. I was able to learn things about myself that i know i would have never learned without this program. Gap Year has helped me become more driven in school, and the experiences I had during Gap Year have benefited me a lot during college. This program is amazing!

How can this program be improved?

I was on gap year the first year, so obviously there were a few kinks that need to be worked out. That being said, gap year has seemed to improve every year and things just seem to get better, so it really doesn't seem like anything major need to be changed.

Phillip
Male
23 years old
San Francisco, California
University of San Francisco

Leadership

10/10

Well folks, you've heard it all from some pretty awesome alumni. The Kivu Gap Year program is specifically tailored to young adults that are in the process of finding out where they belong in a global community through exploring the inner-workings of themselves. And they truly do incredible job at it.

But underneath it at all, what really makes this program so wonderful is the leadership. Hands down. Luke Parrott is one of the most insightful men I've ever known and he is in a constant process of putting this program under the lens of his own criticism so that he can sharpen it to be the most comprehensive year any kid at this age can experience. Moreover, Luke, Andy and Jamie Jo Braner (the founders and directors of Kivu), along with the field staff in Denver, Rwanda, and the Philippines do an amazing job at offering their unwavering support to the students in whatever personal or community related issues that may arise.

In High School I wanted to go live in the mountains, travel around, grow the biggest beard any man could imagine, and climb rocks for the rest of my life. I was a terrible student because I thought I wasn't capable of doing anything else. The staff of Kivu Gap Year staff helped me sort through some of the deeper issues inside my own life that were producing this lie, and the experience I was getting both at my internship in Denver, and abroad put these issues in a vocational and global context in a way that allowed me to experience what I am truly capable of and what I'm deeply passionate about. The result was ambition, along with the right questions to ask to sharpen this ambition.

How can this program be improved?

There were a few things to critique the year I attended the program, but that was only because it was the first year. By now, they have worked through all the little kinks.

About The Provider

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Vocational Discovery in a Global Community.

KIVU Gap Year is an 8 month facilitated gap year to internships at multiple global destinations. Students customize their travel to include both domestic and international experiences. You will spend up to 900 hours at internships while being hosted

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