Africa & Asia Venture (AV) - gap year and summer cultural immersion programs

Africa & Asia Venture (AV)

About

With Africa & Asia Venture (AV) you never have to pay anything til a place is confirmed.

AV has been operating for 25+ years, offering adventure travel, unique immersive volunteering and work experience programs in Africa and Asia for those aged 17 to 25. Nearly 6,000 young people from 30+ countries have travelled with us.

Participants volunteer, live and work (with primary and secondary school children) in the community and so get to know and understand the lives of the local population. Uniquely, we offer people the opportunity to travel independently but with the support of our 24/7 in-country management teams.

We are looking for young people who want a meaningful experience. They should be adaptable, committed, resilient, resourceful and they should have the desire and motivation to help those less fortunate. We do not micro-manage people on our programs: participants are expected to be self-starters who will use their initiative and not and not wait for things to happen!

Reviews

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Ollie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Fantastic experience

I spent nearly 11 weeks with AV on the beautiful southern coast of Kenya. What an experience it was. I highly recommend AV.
If you're looking for full cultural immersion on your gap year, here is your answer. Within the first fortnight, we had already attended weddings, supported the local football team, gone to the local market, got rustic (!) haircuts and started teaching at our placement schools.
It was the first time that I had been away from home for an extended period of time, as well as living with a group of individuals my age. This brought many challenges as well as rewards and is all part of the experience. I formed relationships that I will treasure for a long time, both with my housemates as well as our hosts.
I also witnessed that there is a direct correlation between the effort you put in and the amount you get out. I was committed to the school and wanted to make a difference, which was obviously immensely appreciated by our hosts. Getting to know the kids and teachers takes time but is so rewarding. Putting effort into your lessons and into the community really pays off.
I had to leave early on account of increasing Covid-19 restrictions but I will be back!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
- Go for as long as possible
- Give it your all
- Try Swahili (the locals seriously appreciate effort)
- Take some time every now and then to watch the waves on your own. It is the best form of relaxation therapy :)
Default avatar
Alexander
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Review on my AV trip to Kenya

I spent 4 weeks in Kenya with AV and it is suffice to say that it was the best time of my life. I made friends for life - not only with the other AVs I was living with but with the locals who I still talk to almost on a daily basis. AV really looked after us whilst we were there, providing necessities such as information, knowledge and electric fans. The staff both in Britain and Kenya were both kind and supportive, our guide Khalfan even missed his prayers at the mosque in order to get me to the hospital.

Although the experience can be expensive for some, the value for money you get is superb, especially as it costs less than other gap year firms.
Teaching is both challenging and rewarding, I miss the teachers and children at Vingujini Primary School and I can't wait to go back. If you want to be both challenged and rewarded, AV is the company for you.

I am very thankful to AV for all the fun, challenges and personal development they have gifted me with. My advice - If you don't have many commitments in the UK go for much longer than 4 weeks, you won't want to leave Kenya.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Do not go for less than 1 month. This is because it takes you about 3 weeks to get into the rhythm of living in Kenya, you won't want to leave.
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Emily
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Kenya 2020

In the lead up to my Kenya trip AV was extremely helpful with the information they provided me with from a full run down of where we were staying, tips on teaching and lesson planning and also flight recommendations. I was also able to get in contact with AV representatives out in Kenya to ask any further questions before my departure. On arriving in Ukunda the induction is at a level beat chalet on Diani beach which is a great way to allow you to connect with your fellow AVs and get to know each other better. The house provided is pretty basic but has everything you need throughout your trip. The locals are some of the loveliest people I have ever met and so helpful.
The teaching in the local schools is such an eye opener, the teachers were extremely open and welcoming of us AVs. We would often be invited around for dinners and lunches after school to socialise with them and their families. The trip in general really helper me become more appreciative of what I have and more independent and open minded which I believe has set me up greatly for university and the next chapter in my life.
My highlight of the trip has to inevitably helping and playing with the children and just seeing the smiles on there faces which made everything worth while. Overall I would 100% recommend AV as a gap year programme and advise you not to miss this life changing oppurtunity.

What would you improve about this program?
I don't feel as though there is anything AV could of improved on. The programme itself is extremely well set up and AV offer a huge amount of support through out your travels.
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Rupert
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Unforgettable experience

I spent 3 months with a Lepcha family. To this day it is one of the most special experiences and times of my life - something I shall never forget.
I had the opportunity to live a lifestyle very different to mine at home in the UK, which I relished.
Living on one side of a terraced valley, I taught English to the children of the village. They, along with my host family, and other members of the village were incredibly kind and welcoming. I felt right at home there and often engaged in local events and activities.
I enjoyed the more simple way of life here, rising and sleeping with the rhythm of the sun, eating deliciousness food cooked on wood fires, and an hour’s walk to the closest market town.
The Lepchas are an amazing people, the lower hills of the Indian Himalayas are so beautiful, and the volunteering is extremely rewarding.
It was a great adventure, off the beaten path and I could not recommend more highly.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Not totally unfamiliar, but get used to eating chillies even for breakfast. I remember one instance very clearly, where the only thing to cool me down was water that had been freshly boiled and still hot!
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Helen
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Kenya 2019

I just recently returned from my 7 week trip to Kenya where our group of 9 volunteers lived in Msambweni. AV was originally recommended by my School and I'm so grateful I discovered the company through them.
The trip was fantastic, the teaching was beneficial for myself and for the children I taught I believe. I could really see a difference in the standard of maths in particular for my standard 4 class which was fantastic. In addition, I also taught Science and PE. The staff at the school were also very friendly and helpful.
The village itself was extremely safe and everything we needed - including a small market, small restaurant and the beach were all within a short walk. The house we got to stay in was also very nice and it was amazing and always fun to stay with what had become such a close group of people that I can now call friends.
The weekends were also amazing for breaking up the school term with activities such as staying at a hostel and an airbnb in Diani, the more touristic area 40 minutes drive away should anyone feel like a more western meal or western ingredients from a larger super market. The Safari trip we went on in Half term through some of Kenya's largest National Parks was also an irreplaceable experience.
All of this was made possible by AV and their help when it came to questions, recommendations for safari companies and hostels, and also a guide next door in the village itself to help with local issues. The company could not have been more helpful.
Thank you again for the experience, the only thing I would change is I wish I could've been out there for longer had I not had commitments to return to at home.

What would you improve about this program?
More opportunity to branch out into construction/painting and more physical endeavours. 1 more fan in the house would be a lovely luxury as well.

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Caroline Kinne

Due to her father's work, Caroline moved seven times as a kid, attending eight different schools K-12 and living in eight different homes. Her ninth home was in Uganda with a different family: her fellow volunteers. Caroline will soon have another home in Pennsylvania, where she will attending college. This constant upheaval may seem too horrible, but for Caroline, the changes that molded her and at times nearly destroyed her are what led her to Africa and to a whole new life.
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Why did you pick this program?

The independence. I wanted to feel like I was really doing something and being a part of the community.With AV, we lived in self catered houses and were ultimately responsible for ourselves. Though we had an in country representative to talk to if need be, we were allowed to be on our own for the most part. We weren't staying in nice hotels where someone prepared our food and we got bused out each day to volunteer. I really liked the fact that it wasn't just a high school field trip.

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?

I call it our "Ocean's Eleven" moment. My fellow volunteers and I hosted a goodbye dinner for the permanent teachers at the end of our volunteering time. That evening, as the party was starting to die down, we all found ourselves standing on the porch of our house, silently leaning on the rails. We didn't say anything, but it was as though we were all taking that same moment to reflect on the amazing thing we had just done together.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Trust yourself to go all in.

What made this trip meaningful to you, or how did this trip change your perceptions or future path?

When I was 10, my family moved, and I went into a really bad depression. To combat it, I never really committed to any person or feeling and became numb. Whenever we moved, I didn't feel much pain saying goodbye, because I hadn't put down any roots knowing that they would be ripped up. But when I went to Africa, I committed myself to all of it, even though I knew how hard it would be to leave. For the first time in a very long time, I felt alive again. The hurt I felt at leaving showed me that I had gone all in, and I wouldn't trade my experience there for anything.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Grace Mburu

Job Title
AV Manager, Kenya
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What is your favorite travel memory?

I have many happy travel memories but going to the coast (Kenya) by train is always a favorite. Leaving the railway station at 7 pm sharp and then having dinner in the dining car and breakfast as you travel through the Tsavo National Park. Arriving in Mombasa with the bustle and noise of the station there and finally getting to your destination whether it’s the South or North Coast.

Which destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?

The most underrated would probably be Western Kenya. It is a beautiful part of the country that is not explored as much as the rest. It is hard to say which is the most overrated but visitors to Kenya always head to the Masai Mara and the Coast. There are several other great parks and reserves. The area around Lake Victoria has sandy beaches and clear waters where you can swim and do various water sports.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Motivated staff combined with a great product.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I have become more confident, having been given the opportunity to work in the field, leading groups.

What unique qualities does your company possess?

Our knowledgeable and experienced staff.

Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of your current team.

Recently one of our volunteer group's gave a facelift to a kindergarten over a weekend. When the little ones came to school on Monday, they couldn’t believe their eyes. They were so happy.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

Being part of AV (Africa & Asia Venture) was a life-changing experience so much so that the individual in question decided to move to Africa to do more.

Professional Associations