FSD Gap Year program is an intense, immersive program for pre-college students (17+) looking to gain international development training and experience. It’s an exciting way to explore and learn before starting college.
Our Gap Year program was specifically designed for high school graduates and allows you to gain hands-on experience prior to beginning your studies at a university level. The Gap Year program has a strong emphasis on community ownership and follows the principles of Asset-Based Community Development. Participants receive extensive training in sustainable development principles and gain professional skills in project planning and budgeting, program evaluation, community assessment, and proposal writing. Participants apply their new and existing skill sets as they collaborate with their local colleagues on identifying, designing, and implementing a project to benefit the community. Gap year participants have an option to apply for existing community based projects from either of the following categories: community based development projects or community based research projects.
GAP YEAR OVERVIEW
All FSD Gap Years begin months before your arrival. We work with our community partner organizations in the community to help them identify priorities and develop volunteer descriptions. Prospective participants can apply to these specific descriptions after learning about these community development organizations. Once we receive an application, we begin preparations to ensure you are a good match for the program - which includes an interview with us and connecting you to materials that will help you prepare for your travel and internship.
When participants arrive in the field, FSD staff will lead an in-country orientation, providing each volunteer with invaluable guidance and insight that will help them throughout their program. Orientation is a blend of theoretical topics such as FSD’s asset-based community development model, community-based research, and day-to-day details such as how to navigate the local transit system, safety, and security. Through the orientation process, volunteers will be introduced to the people who will be their support network while they are in-country: FSD staff, host organization supervisors, host families, and other FSD volunteers serving in the area.
After orientation, you will develop a project that supports your host organization’s work starting with a work plan developed collaboratively with your colleagues. Some participants create brand new projects, and others contribute to ongoing work, but the overall focus always remains on community involvement, sustainability, and effectiveness.
FSD Gap Year program is a minimum of nine weeks and can last as long as a full year. The more time a participant is able to commit to a project—laying the foundation, doing the work, evaluating results, and adjusting accordingly—the more effective it can be.
WHO CAN PARTICIPATE IN A GAP YEAR?
Gap Year is designed and structured for recent high school graduates at least 17 years of age. A strong emphasis is placed on experiential learning, meaning that Gap Year participants are learning through the implementation of key phases of work in their program. FSD conducts training and reflection sessions to assist participants during their cultural integration and during their project planning and development work. We strive to ensure relationships of reciprocal benefit, meaning that both the community and volunteers benefit from the experience.
WHAT DO GAP YEAR PARTICIPANTS DO?
Gap Year participants co-create a development project with one of the 40 community development organizations that have partnered with FSD. These organizations have strong links to vulnerable communities and years of experience working in their respective fields. During your time in Uganda, you have the opportunity to work directly with community members, combining their coursework and experience with the expertise already present within the community. Past Gap Year participants have worked to design sustainable irrigation methods with rural farmers, worked to promote gender equity through workshops and campaigns with teen girls, supported nutrition and education programs with at-risk children and youth, and much more. Your Gap Year will be a unique experience designed by you and your community organization.