Have you ever had an epiphany of life decisions?  I mean one of those times when everything lined up and you just saw the world through a clear lens?

Well, part two of the reason we developed the KIVU Gap Year program is that we had one of those moments.  We saw an increasing need to expose American students to the way the world really works in real time.  No longer could we rely on the traveling experiences of wander-lust; we felt compelled to help guide exploration so students would understand the way to interact with the world at large.  I’ll try and explain.

Disney World Travel

For years, I’ve traveled the globe working with leaders from different countries and cultures. On my travels, inevitably there are “those” people on the plane, on the train, or staying in the same hotel as I stay.

“Those” people see the world through a very specific lens, and unfortunately, Americans have the biggest burden to bare in this arena.  “Those” people are the Disney World travelers.

They go to a country or a city, and they almost demand that the standards of living they live at their home are adopted for the 7 days they are there. After all, they paid “good money” to come on vacation and give to the local economy, right?  Or, they’re the ones who disobey all the cultural or community laws because they’re on vacation.  Or, they’re the ones who have no self awareness of others around them, so you watch them congregate into loud obnoxious groups that draw huge amounts of attention.

And to be honest, when we work with our students on the Gap Year, we have to do a lot of training on this issue.  Most of our students are totally unaware of the different cultural norms or standards that exist in exotic places.  At the KIVU Gap Year, we wanted to give students the ability to develop a deep emotional intelligence to know where they are, who they’re with, and how to adopt the culture they may be visiting.

Missional Travel

Very close behind the Disney World Traveler is the Mission Traveler.  These are the people who feel some sense of moral obligation to go and “help” someone from a different country.  There is a pretty incredible industry of travel that sends students on Mission Trips.  They spend millions of dollars a year on travel expenses, often have little knowledge of the places they go, and more times than not don’t think through the impact of their giving.

At The KIVU Gap Year, we wanted students to begin to explore what it means to actually reach out and help someone.  It’s not about bringing candy to an orphanage, but rather; it’s about becoming friends with the kids that might give them hope.  It’s not about patronizing a community to build them homes that may put local constructors out of business; but rather, it’s about listening to various communities and their needs in order that they can be the most effective agents of change.  It’s not about dropping dollars, but about approaching problems with some sense of intelligence that would connect cultures instead of continue reinforcing the idea that Americans have the answers and everyone else needs them.

The New Globalization

No matter if you like it or not, the world is connected.  Businesses are interwoven into tight knit communities that rely on each other.  Technology has only added to the sense that the world is “small after all” and Americans are notorious for living in our own small view of the world.

A Global Worldview is one that enhances every aspect of a students growth.  Intellectually, they can put together concepts with multiple cultural solutions.  Economically, they can see how business can be done in the small mountain communities of Rwanda, Tanzania, or Uganda.  Academically,  they understand how education can be effective when they work in a school in Israel with Christian, Muslim, and Jewish children, or they help facilitate an English class in a tribal part of the Philippines.   They see large NGO’s at work helping the poorest of the poor, and they connect with some of the world’s most interesting leaders.

We believe the new normal will afford students who have the gift of Global Understanding a HUGE advantage.  They’ll have the tools to speak the language of other cultures, dream entrepreneurial ideas of creating new businesses, and connect with  government leadership in countries around the world.

A Real Worldview is only adopted when someone has truly gone through the exploration process of understanding the world around them.  You can’t simply understand Worldview from a textbook or a classroom.  It’s all about engaging with real people in real environments on the ground in real situations.  Only then can you truly understand the framework for who YOU are, and how YOU will engage with others on the planet.

Tomorrow.  Question #3:  What about Faith? How can a Gap Year help students engage with their own spiritual being?


1 Comment

  1. Andy,
    I love reading your blogs and wish I could go on a Kivu Gap Year! It sounds amazing! My son attended CAMP KIVU last summer for the first time. It was a life changing experience for him. Unfortunately, the camp is no longer… so, PLEASE let us know if you have other summer camps that you would recommend former KIVU campers to attend. I am sure this is not the first request like this that you have received. William is too young for the Gap year, but, a few more summer camps like Kivu may prepare him for that. Please let me know what you would suggest!

    Thank you,
    C. Meland

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