KIVU Global Gap Year Program: Destinations Across the Globe

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Brand New Programs NOW AVAILABLE!

For 8 years, we have only offered our signature multi-country program. Now, you can join us for a 2 and 12 week programs! Departures in the fall, winter, and spring!


We prepare college-bound high school graduates for success in higher education through domestic and international experiential learning adventures. We're equipping young leaders in a culturally diverse and globally connected world.

Benefits of our program:

+ 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

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
  • Orientation to culture, language, customs, and safety at each location
  • Choose between hiking Mount Kilimanjaro or trekking through the Patagonia
  • Customize the program to your preferred travel locations!
  • Travel with a cohort of 6-15 students!

Questions & Answers

Hi Carsyn! Please see our fees for the Global and Semester program. Also, here is our helpful PDF on Making Your Gap Year Affordable.… I hope this all helps! Luke


based on 33 reviews
  • Housing 8.8
  • Support 9.4
  • Fun 9.8
  • Value 9.5
  • Safety 9.5
  • Growth 8
  • Support 10
  • Fun 8
  • Housing 10
  • Safety 10
Showing 1 - 15 of 33
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Challenging and Exciting Gap Year

KIVU offers a unique experience filled with cross cultural opportunities you cannot get anywhere else. From home stays to less common destinations and rewarding internships, you are equally challenged and provided with safe engaging fun and growth. This program is not always glamorous but is always rewarding and exciting while growing you in a way other travel experiences will not. I would highly recommend this program to anyone looking to learn more about themselves and humanity and to gain a stronger global perspective about the world.

Yes, I recommend this program
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A brief review:Kivu Gap Year

Kivu Gap year was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. I would highly recommend this program to anyone. My first destination was Denver Colorado. And yeah it doesn’t sound to glamorous or adventurous on the surface but it was place I experienced the most growth on Kivu Gap Year. The staff they sorround you with in Denver are amazing, they go above and beyond and I still keep contact with them today.
My second destination was The Holy Land/Jordan. The Middle East changed my view of the world completely. Being there taught me what forces drive human behavior. Also it was a ton of fun. I would go again just to dive off the sand dunes of Wadi Rum.
Last destination was Africa. First we went to Rwanda. This country is beautiful and misunderstood. The people are amazing at forming community and if you go, you will become a part of it. It was hard at first being in a completely different environment but looking back now I think it really opened my eyes to the world. We also spent two weeks in Uganda and 1 week climbing Kilimanjaro! Kilimanjaro was a top experience of my life time and Kivu gap year put us with the right people not just on Kili but the entire time while over seas.

There are Gap years where you go more places but I would pick Kivu anyways. They put you with the right people and focus so much on personal growth, which at the ages of 17-21 I think people really need. Such a great program.

Yes, I recommend this program
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KIVU Changed my sense of direction

I participated in the KIVU Gap year program after one year of undergraduate study. I entered college as a science major and quickly realized that I wanted to change my area of study...but I had no idea what to pursue. My time away from the classroom and in the real world with KIVU gave me a strong sense of direction. The program has changed a bit structurally since I participated but generally, the lessons and main ideas have stayed the same. While in Rwanda, I lived with a local family and worked at a community development organization. Overcoming cultural barriers was difficult, but the Kivu staff provided support and advise throughout it all. The host family I was placed in was very kind and hospitable. I stay in touch with them to this day. My experiences abroad showed me the value of mastering a foreign language. Consequently, I changed my major when I returned to college. I continually recall my gap year experiences as a source of motivation when the classroom becomes boring and seemingly pointless.

How can this program be improved?
Like I mentioned, the program has changed a bit since I participated, but I think the internship placements could be better suited to the students interests. Some of my fellow gap year friends were placed in volunteer/intern positions that didn’t match their skills. If the program tried to create more ties with local organizations, there could be more options for students to choose from.
Yes, I recommend this program
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best decision ever!!!

Taking a gap year with the KIVU gap year was the best decision I ever made. I had never been more stretched to grow then I had while I was on KIVU gap year. The friends I made through the program I still keep in touch with today and our bond hasn't weakened. Taking the KIVU gap year opened my eyes to what the world is like without traveling in luxury. You meet real people who live in the country that you're visiting, form relationships with them and learn more about the culture, it's an amazing experience and I would recommend it to everyone.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Most amazing gap year!!! I decided to take a gap year because socially I wasn't ready for the college environment. I was in Denver first semester, and I would say this was the best part of gap year for me. I grew so much personally- believing that I was loved and beautiful. We focused on a personality test called the Enneagram. We were able to see our strengths and weaknesses, but also see how we can best relate to other people in our group. We lived in a house about a mile from downtown Denver and we got to explore so much.
The abroad portion was defiantly not easy. I was uncomfortable, scared sometimes, missing home, but it was so worth it. I was able to expand my worldview and challenge my beliefs more than I ever had. I learned so much about other cultures and also how I handle uncomfortable situations. Throughout all gap year, we were pushed to be uncomfortable, but we were surrounded by an encouraging community. Our leaders were so encouraging and supportive when I was struggling or just needed to verbally process what I was experiencing. In addition, I made the best friendships with every person on gap year. I'm closer to them and still keep in touch. In each destination, we stayed with host families and living with my host families were the best way to learn about each culture. I still keep up with all my host families and I hope to visit them again! The Middle East was my favorite part because we learned so much about the conflict and were able to see both sides equally.
This was the best decision I've made and I miss it every day!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Explore to Understand

Heading into Kivu I was lost. I had no direction, no real faith, and negligible understanding. I was enthralled for college; or paramountly the party scene. It is a massive understatement that Kivu changed my life. I decided to enroll subsequent graduation of High school which ensued to possibly become the best decision I may ever make.
First Semester I was living in Denver with eight other students; the time shared and bonds formed became nothing short of amazing. The material covered in classes and at the dinner table was beyond necessary for the growth I yearned for and needed to become the man I am today. Furthermore the space allotted for adventuring throughout the city for fun while finding places to spend time processing, creating or reading was pleasant. The support and accessibility of Kivu staff was truly exceptional domestic and overseas; Luke, Josh, Emily, Andy, Greg, Millie ext. were always a phone call away if not in my presence.
In the Middle East I verily felt just as safe if not more than I did in my hometown or first semester. The hospitable culture is so far unmatched in my book along with the people we were coalesced with that even furthered my intrinsic feel and adore to ignite friendships.
Africa was the hardest but possibly the most valuable overseas destination. Rewiring a typical American - task oriented, productive - mindset was challenging. The idea of simply being was enticing, however increasingly difficult to assume. After time in a "being" and relations oriented culture I grew to understand and accept it.
After experiencing so many people - turned life long friends -, cultures, histories, religions, oppressive systems, foods and social constructs and thought processes I am now exponentially more understanding of myself, my God and the people of this earth. That will never be eradicated from my memory until my eyes lay for a final rest, unlike some lectures and reading assignments that will inevitably be forgotten the moment the class is dismissed or the book closed.

Furthermore, I would be more than happy to answer any questions or talk interested parties though any road blocks or apprehensions! "Everyman dies, but not everyman really lives" - William Wallace

How can this program be improved?
I pondered this question for some time and I can't not seem to come up with anything. If I tried or wanted to redesign an aspect of the year I would not be able too, it was all executed not to my expectation but to my highest wills obscure at the time or not.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Life-Changing Year

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Review of KIVU Gap Year

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.

Yes, I recommend this program

A formative experience

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.

Yes, I recommend this program
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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!
Yes, I recommend this program
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A Catalyst for Growth

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.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Foundational Experience

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.

Yes, I recommend this program

Why KIVU Gap Year was the best choice of my life

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Don't Hold Back

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.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Go and See

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.

Yes, I recommend this program


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About Kivu Gap Year

Equipping young leaders in a culturally diverse and globally connected world.

KIVU Gap Year is a facilitated gap year to internships at multiple global destinations. Students customize their travel to include both domestic and international...