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February is Gap Year Exploration Month and AMIGOS is proud to support the movement to popularize gap years and share our gap year lessons learned.

Our Gap Program began in 2012 in Nicaragua. Since then, we’ve been able to deepen our connections in countries we work in year-round. And, in 2020 we partnered with Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life to develop our first-ever virtual gap program: the Civic Action Gap Semester!

Below, we’ve compiled some gap year lessons learned from our volunteers:


You have time to take a gap year.

Emma: “Although it may not feel like it, you have so much ahead of you and there is no rush to go to university or to settle into a job. An experience like this will teach you more about yourself and the world than you could ever imagine and is so valuable to your personal and professional development.”

Sophie:Take a gap year. Life isn’t a race. Who said you need to go immediately to college after high school? Even though many people go straight to college after high school, that doesn’t mean it’s the right step for you.”


Gap Students in Nicaragua
Our first group of gap students in Nicaragua, 2012

You might decide your major or career path.

Mateo: “I originally decided to do a gap year in Nicaragua with AMIGOS because I wanted to take the time to explore a career that I was interested in, but knew I wasnt going to study in college. Ironically enough, now Im not so sure that I wont just change my major and continue the work that Idoing here!”

Alice: “I am working with social change through the arts. I have been learning so much about how dance, theater, and music have been changing tons of children’s lives in New York City, and I personally believe that art has the power to change society for good. And as a person that wants to pursue a career in theater, this experience has been outstanding.”


Gap student Audrey painting a mural in Ecuador

You’ll learn a lot about yourself on your gap year.

Audrey: “I have not gotten rid of my imperfections or reputations, I have been forced to embrace them. Instead of becoming what anyone expected, I have just become me, settled into my body and my personality in a way that I have not been before. I am still going to come home a different person, but I will come home more as myself than anyone else.”

Alice: “In this program, you don’t need to be afraid of showing you vulnerabilities, in fact, you are encouraged to do so. We are encouraged and inspired to be truly and humanly ourselves.”


Civic Action Gap Semester cohort, 2020

A gap year can give you perspective.

Stephanie: “For the first time in a long time, I have noticed the people and places around me and have taken the time to appreciate all they provide me. For the first time, I feel as though I am aware of the kind of life I want to live after my gap year is over, a life full of adventure and freedom.”

Max: “After living in a countryside environment in Cuenca, I saw how a different side of the world lives. It sounds cliché, but beyond perspective, I experienced getting out of my comfort zone.”

Aidan: “Through [my host family and my friends] I have developed a new perspective of the world and have learned just a little more about how I fit into it. The knowledge and the love I have received from the people I have met here is something I will never forget.”


Gap student Aidan’s host family welcoming him into their home

You’ll have an unforgettable experience.

Sophie (parent): “We have yet to meet any parents who have said they had regrets about their children’s decisions to take a gap year. [Parents]…said their children grew in ways they could not have predicted and that would not have been possible had they gone straight to college.”

David: “Since I have been in Cuenca, I’ve joined a soccer league, dressed up like a bear and danced at a festival, and tried typical Ecuadorian cuisine such as cuy (guinea pig).”

Nora: “I take every minute I can to cherish these moments of gratitude I will remember for the rest of my life.”


Check out our gap programs for summer and fall 2021!

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