On Top of the World

10269482_10152647140606190_8844945949905458928_nThey made it!! The KIVU Gap Year class spent the last week ascending the highest free-standing mountain in the world!!  At the top of Kilimanjaro, you can look out over the continent of African and literally see for hundreds of miles.  Today, they’re on their way down to get some well need R and R.

I can’t tell you how proud I am of these students.  They decided to take a year off from academic life to travel the world, discover their gifting, and focus on who they want to be in the future.  There’s nothing like providing students opportunities to see the world through a different lens than maybe they’re used to in their own home town.  Not that home town views are inherently bad, but when you have the chance to experience life through the eyes of other cultures, serve people who are living in different environments, and work with people making a difference in the world every single day; a transformation happens.

America is Bound by Two Great Oceans

Something happened in our world about 30 years ago and those of us who are a bit older than that saw an integration we never could have even imagined.  I read Thomas Friedman’s book The World Is Flat back in the early 00’s and had an epiphany.  The business world was learning globalization and outsourcing as companies were figuring out how to lower labor cost, and increase productivity.  I know that’s a huge debate in the halls of Washington D.C. today, but just think about it.  An accountant can hire people all over the world today to help with tax season.  He can send forms, without names and identification numbers, to a firm in India, and while America is sleeping his work can continue.  EDS, the company founded by Ross Perot, once claimed, the sun never set on their business.

That’s the world we live in.

unfortunately, we’re still trying to catch up with the global trends in our high school education systems.  We’re still living in a place where our world is the only world that really matters.

For example, I was in New York City visiting some friends a few years ago.  Coming from the West, I thought the whole island of Manhattan would be their playground.  But when we wanted to go somewhere further than 4 blocks outside their apartment building, it felt like I was imposing on their daily routine.  “That’s SO FAR” they told me.  And that’s kind of how we live here in America.

We have our grocery stores, our gas stations, our favorite dinner spots, and if it extends beyond our ‘normal’ reach we just feel like it’s too much work to go out and see those things.  But globalization changed all that.

We created the KIVU Gap Year to expose students to the world.  We want them to interact with people from different cultures, different faith backgrounds, different vocations; and all so they can expand their REAL WORLDVIEW!!

Hard Things Give Us a Place to Remember

Americans also have a hard time with suffering.  We don’t like it.  We create lives where the path of least resistance is the “best” path.  But when our students stand at the top of Kilimanjaro, they’ve created a new perspective of what is hard and what’s not.

Before climbing to the top, this romantic idea that they’ll be on top of the world is the mindset with all the students.  But climbing Kili is not an easy task.  When you reach the barrier over 15K ft in elevation, you’re higher than anywhere in the continental US, and you still have 4,000 ft. left to climb.

The air is thin.
The weather is cold.
You burn calories like it’s going out of style.
Your body starts seeing things because of the lack of Oxygen.
It’s tough.

But as they have a chance to reflect on the challenge, they can use this place when they have a deadline due at school, a big project that looks insurmountable at work, or they have a new paradigm for what it takes to start their own endeavors when they come back.  Sometimes in life we all need to push ourselves beyond what we think we can do, so we can know how capable we are.

A New Paradigm Leads to Innovation

Just imagine sitting in the same old routine you’ve known since you were born.  You interact with the same people.  You work on the same projects.  You see the beauty of your own community.  And if you’re not stretching yourself to go out and see different, you’ll miss out.

You’ll miss out on the beauty of different places.
You’ll miss out on the relationships that may be with other people who think different.
You’ll never have the opportunity to explore the possibilities of what might be.

The KIVU Gap Year students are having a full year of exposure.
They’re learning how people live in a different rhythm of life.
They’re seeing how people use the resources around them to provide for their livelihood.
They’re learning how to communicate with people who are in a totally different culture.

And the benefit is, they’ll be SO far ahead of your average High School Graduate when they have the chance to interact with people around the world.

This program isn’t for the faint of heart, but it sure is changing the hearts of the students involved.  They’re able to sit in any environment and be confident in the gifts and talents they’ve been given to live on this planet today.

If you want to follow their story, just click over to http://www.kivugapyear.com and read their blogs from their experience.  I think you’ll find this program is an AMAZING way to transition from High School to the University life.

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