Global Routes draws gap and college students from all over North America and the world who have a passion for adventure, genuine cross-cultural immersion, personal growth, and collaboration and service. Our participants are looking for something more rigorous than a travel tour and more culturally engaging than a strictly wilderness or adventure program.
What is the focus of a Global Routes program?
The heart of soul of our programs is cultural immersion. Living and working with people throughout the world challenges both you and local community members to step outside of your boundaries and open your hearts and minds to new people and cultures. Our students achieve this through living and actively participating in the life of a small, rural host community. Whether you are collaborating with your group and host community on a service project or teaching at a local school, you become a part of the traditions and rhythms of daily life in another culture. Living with a host family throughout also allows you to connect with local people in a way that is not possible through ordinary travel.
What are the benefits of doing a Global Routes program?
The benefits to you and your host communities vary greatly depending on you and your specific program. Global Routes students often say they return more confident, independent, focused, compassionate, empathetic, and thankful for what they have. But don’t take our word for it! Check out the responses from previous Global Routes gap year students when asked about their experience. Global Routes host communities most commonly refer to the benefits of the service project or teaching on the community, the positive influence of the students on community unity, and the joy of sharing language, ideas and customs with our students. Again, you don’t have to take our word for it! You can read more about the host families' experiences directly.
What experience do I need?
We are interested in students with a genuine passion for learning and an openness and enthusiasm for personal growth and connection with others. You do not need to have experience volunteering, teaching, or traveling abroad.
What is expected of me?
We expect you to have a positive attitude, demonstrate patience and flexibility in the face of the inherent challenges of life in a developing country, express a sensitivity to the beliefs and customs of the local people and their culture, contribute to a positive group experience, and abide by our student contract.
What are the living conditions?
Living conditions vary throughout your program. When traveling as a group, you stay in simple and clean guesthouses, cabins or hostels with larger dormitory-style rooms. During the community service projects and teaching placements, you live in homestays. The living conditions in these homes are simple and rustic and most are constructed of wood or cement block with few amenities. Host families are selected for their warmth and friendliness, not their wealth, and therefore some homes have electricity and others do not. Some homes have indoor or outdoor flush toilets and others have simple pit latrines and a hose running close to the kitchen with water. As a member of a large extended family, you have limited privacy. Although living conditions are more rustic than what you might be used to, they are by no means primitive.
How do you select communities and host families?
In each destination we have in-country staff who identify appropriate communities and who interview and select each host family. Prior to the start of your program, one of your leaders makes an additional visit to your community to meet with village leaders, members of the project committee and all host families. We go to new communities and select new families nearly every year. This keeps the experience unique and special for communities and students alike.
Who are my leaders?
Possibly the best part of your program! We pride ourselves on our exemplary leadership. Please review our staff biographies.
Will there be vegetarian food options?
Many of our students are vegetarian. We make every effort to accommodate dietary restrictions to ensure that each student is well-fed. There may be occasions when it is not possible to obtain a different meal or when people do not understand the dietary restriction and are therefore unable to prepare the meal accordingly. In these cases we ask you to be culturally sensitive, flexible, patient and open to trying new things.
What about health and safety?
We take every precaution possible to ensure a safe and healthy experience. We provide you with a comprehensive list of immunization recommendations specific to your program. Additionally, each of your leaders is certified in First Aid and CPR and travels with an extensive medical kit. Finally, we have highly competent medical contacts in each destination who we call upon for assistance when necessary.
Can I receive academic credit?
Possibly. Past students have received credit from the colleges in which they were enrolled. Often they have made arrangements with specific professors to do independent study in cultural anthropology, women's issues, third world economics/politics or teaching. Please look into this with your institution, and if you need any documentation or support, please let the Global Routes office know.
How do I sign up?
If you are ready to reserve a space, we encourage you to apply directly through our website by submitting our online application. If you would like to speak with a past student for further information about the experience, please contact our office by phone or email, and we’ll provide you with a list of references.