Accredited by the Gap Year Association, Youth International offers 31-day programs in a single country, as well 3-month semester programs that explore three countries in a region. Teams of fourteen peers travel with two group leaders, exploring the cultures of some of the most fascinating countries in Asia, South America, and Africa.
The core focus of Youth International is on cultural exchange. During the program, you will stay in several communities, both urban and rural, for extended periods of time. You move in with families and learn about their life by living it yourself. On average, participants live with host families for about a third of the trip. Conditions in some homes are very basic, especially those in remote villages where there may be no electricity, running water, or other basic amenities. When living with families, participants are expected to follow the daily rhythm of the household and to help out with chores, meal preparation, or work in the fields. Most meals and evenings are shared with host families. *There may be some adjustments to the homestay component of the program due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
By becoming personally involved in the issues and needs of the communities you visit, you are able to give back to your host community and also deepen your cultural understanding. Youth International works with local leaders to develop sustainable projects that are community-driven. Some of Youth International’s ongoing service projects include: helping to renovate schools and homes in the Kathmandu valley, teaching English to Tibetan refugees in Northern India, running camps for children in rural areas, and doing conservation work in the Ecuadorian rainforest.
Get out there and travel on the local trains and buses, by boat, and even by camelback! Explore some of the world’s greatest cities, like Bangkok, Kathmandu, La Paz, and Cuzco. Go trekking through the Andes Mountains to Machu Picchu or in the Himalayan Mountains, across ancient pathways connecting tribal villages. Experience some of the world's most dramatic landscapes and diverse ecosystems, including the Galapagos Islands, the Ecuadorian rainforest, and the Thar Desert. By discovering a broader perspective on the world, you also develop a deeper understanding of yourself. Develop mindfulness as you journey with a small group of peers and two leaders across three fascinating countries.
Optional college credit courses are available through an affiliation with Western State Colorado University. These college credit courses are designed to enhance the existing Youth International program through complimentary reading and reflective writing. You do not need to be accepted into a university in order to take advantage of this opportunity. 529 Savings Plan funds and AmeriCorps Education Awards may be used towards the course fee and the Youth International program fee.