Have you ever seen anything more beautiful than this?
Last Friday, I hiked to the top of Ice Lake outside of Silverton, Colorado with 30 of our newest KIVU Gap Year students. The view from the top is absolutely breathtaking. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t without a lot of heavy breathing and encouragement. Many of our students come from less than 1000 ft. of elevation, and to engage at 13K ft. is an entirely different game.
As we crested the top of the hike and peered down to this beautiful crystal blue lake I started thinking about this new adventure we’re about to embrace.
The KIVU Gap Year est. 2010
Five years ago, I had a vision to give High School and University students an opportunity to travel the world, engage with different cultures, and along the way introduce them to potential vocational options before they graduate from College.
At the time, it seemed to me mane students were dropping out of school,(interesting fact, only 60% of incoming freshman are going to complete four years of college) many were finding themselves without any direction at the end of their time at the University, and most had no idea what was going on around the world.
So we began a program to give students a taste of the world before they finish their education.
The Co-Hort Mentality
Many of our Gap Year colleagues are interested in bringing students to their facility, teaching them a certain curriculum, and then sending them to the world as if “they’re ready.” I see the validity for some students to engage in those programs, but we wanted to carve a niche in the Gap Year world to actually give students hands on learning.
For the last five years, we’ve dedicated our program to High Quality, Small Group, Adventure. We keep the Co-Hort sizes no bigger than 15 in each location, and we are intentional about helping students climb the mountain of life to achieve their dreams and goals.
This week, we’ll have three Co-Horts. One in Denver Colorado, another in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, and our newest group opens in Washington DC. The students get to choose where they want to go, what internships they want to be involved in, and how they shape their first semester is largely due to their own choosing.
As they move in the city environment with their co-hort, they begin developing necessary community skills. They learn how to resolve conflict, how to lead, how to follow, and how to encourage a small community to move.
More and more, I’m noticing students who don’t have the chance to learn these skills in a University Performance model. They see individual goals, and sometimes students can graduate without having the chance to learn what it means to develop real community. Giving and Taking are the foundations of relationships, and many students today use words like community, but have little experience about how to create and form community in their worlds.
Knowing Who You Are as it relates to Vocation
We’ve hand crafted programs to help students work through who they are, who they’ve been created to be, what excites them, and probably more importantly, what doesn’t excite them.
After the program is over, our student shave over 900 hours of internship work around the globe. After their first semester, we’ll have students literally all over the globe. From Rwanda, Peru, Jordan, The Philippines, and Chile; the KIVU Gap Year students will have the opportunity to learn how to function in different cultures, different leadership styles, and different ways of doing what they want to achieve.
The Faith Component
We’re pretty up front with our students. We enroll all faith traditions with a central emphasis on Jesus. We don’t claim to be “Christian” by any means. But we do open the conversation about who Jesus was, what He did on earth, and how to engage with the life and teachings of Jesus.
The coolest part of the program is that we invite students to a conversation. We don’t tell them what to think about faith; but rather, we invite them to discover their faith at their speed. Locking arms with people of faith helps students see how they can implement faith in their future vocation, their family environment, and their community they decide to engage with.
I would love for you to follow us on our social media platforms, if for nothing else, for you to pray, encourage, and see from afar what it means to hike the big mountain of life in hopes that we train students to achieve their hopes and dreams.
And then, the most beautiful picture on top the mountain of life is the student who can see the world the way it really is, know themselves for why they were created, and engage.
Check out our website at http://www.kivugapyear.com, and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We are SUPER excited to begin this adventure with our students!!