Gap Year Semester in Latin America with Thinking Beyond Borders

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About

Explore solutions to critical global issues in communities throughout Latin America in this 13-week program.

Our well-established gap year programs are exciting, supportive, and transformational. You will engage in fun language classes, enjoy extended homestays, and have the opportunity to work with inspiring local leaders on projects that make a difference. The result? You'll learn about things that matter to you and the world. With Master's level teachers as Program Leaders, you'll also experience mentorship and support to help you uncover your purpose and direction.

Itinerary – 13 weeks:
Orientation in Guatemala – 1 week
Unit 1: Guatemala: Environmental Justice and Sustainability – 5 weeks
Enrichment: Peru: Machu Picchu and Cusco – 1 week
Unit 2: Costa Rica: Education that Empowers – 5 weeks
Culmination in Washington, D.C. – 1 week

Highlights
  • Living with host families
  • Fieldwork with local experts
  • Combine field work experiences, fascinating readings, and daily seminars to make learning meaningful
  • Daily Spanish language classes & immersion
  • Visit Machu Picchu and Cusco

Questions & Answers

Reviews

9.68 Rating
based on 22 reviews
  • Housing 9.1
  • Support 9.4
  • Fun 9.8
  • Value 9.2
  • Safety 9.4
Showing 1 - 8 of 22
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James
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Thinking Beyond Borders Reflection Two Years After My Trip

My gap experience with Thinking Beyond Borders was the best three months of my life, which is still impacting me years later. The conversations, experiences, and thoughts I was exposed to during my time in Latin America was a catalyst for my personal and professional growth. My experience made me more confident, gave me a second family in another country (who I visited and stayed with again upon returning to Guatemala this past summer), provided me lifelong friends and mentors, and introduced me to people who were also curious about similar issues and wanted to ask difficult questions. All my preconceived notions were challenged and my personal philosophy changed on the trip, which has molded me into the person I am today, a person I am proud to be.

If you want to truly learn about the world and yourself and you are willing to put in hard work (because it is hard work), then go on this gap experience. If you want to sit in a circle talking with inspiring people from all walks of life and have the most impactful conversations of your life applying concepts you learn in the classroom and the field, then go. If you see the value in learning from all types of people and situations, then go. You will not regret it and it will be the best decision you ever make. My gap semester encouraged me to embrace my individuality and accept myself for who I am and what I enjoy.

What was your funniest moment?
Hiking a volcano in Ometepe, Nicaragua and face planting into the mud because I didn't bring proper footwear. Our tour guide laughed at me and proceeded to catch a wild snake 10 minutes later. He then told me he identifies with snakes more than people. 10/10 unreal.
Default avatar
Clare
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Forget Volun-tourism with TBB

The most important part of my TBB experience was a culturally valuable, understanding, immersive experience. I matured beyond my expectations during my time with TBB because the Program Leaders ensured we stayed away from insensitively taking advantage of our homestays and overall experience. I had more fun in those 3 months than I could have imagined while learning and immersing myself via education and work. Everyone starts at different levels of language, cultural understanding, and group dynamics, but everyone rapidly reaches the same competency in these areas. I’m beyond happy I chose TBB in favor of a program that focused more on fun and taking advantage of the beauties and riches host nations have to offer. Gap year students looking to prepare for college, TBB is for you.

What was your funniest moment?
One time we were having a group movie night after evening seminar at the Program Leaders’ homestay when one of the village dogs snuck in and essentially wreaked havoc while we tried to watch the movie. It was hilarious trying to shoo her out of the room.
Default avatar
Emma
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

TBB LAM

I participated in the fall of 2018 Latin America semester and absolutely loved it. No other program compares to TBB. Everything I saw in each country I was in, the connections I made with locals, and what we learned in seminars seriously can't be found in other programs. There were many challenging parts but in those moments I found that's where I grew the most. TBB teaches you to think critically and I am so grateful for the different perspectives I gained through my experience. I've been back from the program for about three months now and everyday I use what I learned from TBB. Additionally, my program leaders and the other students with me were by far one of the best parts of the program. They were, and still are, my second family. To be with a group of people that have the same mindset as you is indescribable, those bonds will last a lifetime. I really would recommend this program to anyone thinking about a gap year!

What was your funniest moment?
One of the funniest moments was around Thanksgiving when we were all craving some banana bread. So, one of the students decided to make it. We had pretty limited resources as the grocery stores are really different then in the states but we managed to get all the ingredients. The student who made it left it in for too long and put in way too much baking soda so it tasted just awful but looked pretty good if you haven't seen banana bread for a while. It kinda looked like chocolate banana bread. Since it looked decent we got everyone to try it, we told everyone it was the best banana bread ever and got them super excited. Seeing their reactions was the funniest thing I've ever seen. Some people tried to be nice and was like ohhh wow this is great! Others just immediately spit it out.
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Mariah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

TBB Rocks

Thinking Beyond Borders was a life changing way to start my college experience. I think a good indicator of the quality of the program is that my college advertised and encouraged me to take this gap semester. TBB is not a normal gap semester, it's not just traveling around for fun, it is immersing yourself in and learning about cultures in a way you probably never could without a program like this. You learn Spanish first hand (at least on the South America Semester) with classes and host families, you learn about education and agriculture through fist hand experience, as well as more in depth seminars, and you meet new people from all over the world that will become your friends for a lifetime. 10/10 would recommend.

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

A Wonderful Opportunity

This program was exactly what I wanted and needed out of a gap semester. It led me to think more critically about myself and the world around me and has given me the tools and motivation to do something with my ideas and dreams. Additionally, it pushed me out of my comfort zone in ways I didn't even know I needed to be pushed. I taught math in a foreign language, I hiked a 16,000 foot peak, I ate cuy, I made relationships that will undoubtedly last a lifetime, and so much more that I can't even attempt to put into words. It is sincerely the best decision I've ever made and I'm so grateful for the opportunity. It has shaped my future and how I see the world for the better, and has left me with skills and experiences that will only allow me to prosper. I highly recommend to anyone looking for something more than a tourist experience abroad and have only wonderful things to say about the program and all involved.

Ellie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A Formative Experience

Initially, I was looking for a gap year that would give me an a greater depth of the Spanish language. But when I came across TBB it offered something a little more. Now that I say that, it wasn't just a little more, it was A LOT more. Not only did I get to further my understanding of Spanish culture and language, but I got to expand my understanding of the complex development issues in regard education and sustainability. While there was a lot of learning about the world, I think my most important learning was the active self-discovery. TBB really made us question our values and assumptions which is something I never had to critically do in the traditional classroom setting. I can't express my gratitude towards my parents and TBB for making this experience possible. 10/10 recommend to anyone looking to challenge his or her self but still maintaining a safe environment and strong support network to fall back on.

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Noelle
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

TBB Review SAM Semester

I would recommend this program to every person looking for a gap semester. I learned so much about other cultures, myself, and the specific units. We were able to have useful work projects while still being able to learn in seminars or Spanish classes. Most importantly, I always felt supported by the program. Living in host families was a new experience for me, but I can't have imagined it any other way. We were able to learn the language much more than we would have, and become really close with our families.

Default avatar
Philip
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My TBB experience

When we were staying in Ecuador for 5 weeks, we taught english in a local high school in a small village called San Jose de Minas. I taught with another girl and a teacher from the school, and we always had the same classes. The students were between 11 and 15. We taught about five classes per day, sometimes even maths, which was really fun. One of my best memories about it is, how the students would get super excited when we would enter their classroom, and wouldn't stop asking us for help when they had to do individual work. Seeing their progress of learning was amazing. During the breaks they would ask us to play football or volleyball with them, and they would always greet us. It was an amzing experience. In the afternnons we had seminars where we learned about education and challenged our assumptions. One of my favorite seminar was called "Are students and teachers equal?". Beforehand, we had to do readings in shape of articles or books, and afterwards, at the seminars, we would al discuss it. It is more than just travelling and volunteering, but learning/studying abroad. I can highly recommend this program.