Princeton to Launch an International Service Year for Pre-College Students

Princeton will send admitted first-year students out into the world for 9 months of international public service.

Princeton student Zach Ruchman teaching in a Vietnam Classroom

Princeton student Zach Ruchman teaching in a Vietnam classroom

This fall, Princeton’s new Bridge Year Program aims to offer 20 admitted students a chance to live in a different culture, develop maturity and an international perspective, and a commitment to public service before coming back to Princeton to start their freshman year in the fall of 2010.

The program will teach the participants about host country health and safety, offer them language instruction, and place them in “humble service” projects at grassroots organizations, clinics, hospitals, schools, and orphanages. The goal is for participants to take on roles appropriate to their age and experience, and in jobs “that could not be held by local workers.” — My read on that last goal is they want to prevent the high school grads from displacing local jobs, not to imply that local workers are incapable of work that Princeton-bound kids can handle.

The Bridge Year participants will live in home stays, in communities near a few other Bridge Year participants, and near in-country support staff from partner organizations experienced with coordinating international volunteers.

Best of all, Princeton picks up most of the program costs — though participants who can afford it are responsible for flight Continue reading

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Global Citizen Year Searching for its Founding Class of Fellows

picture-81Guest contributor Wil Keenan is a program associate at Global Citizen Year.

Global Citizen Year (GCY) is building a new generation of Americans to lead the fight against global poverty. Each year, we select and train a diverse cohort of emerging leaders who will participate in a transformational “bridge year” between high school and college.

With our support, GCY Fellows defer their college enrollment and spend a year living with families and working as apprentices with community organizations in Asia, Africa, or Latin America — learning a new language, re-shaping their sense of themselves in the world, and preparing to begin college with global perspective and a clearer sense of purpose.

GCY is currently conducting a national search for its founding class of Fellows. We are looking for a diverse group of Continue reading

High Schoolers Find a New Way to Serve through Global Citizen Year

A program that offers a nine-month, international service opportunity for recent high school grads is now accepting applications for its inaugural term.

Global Citizen Year aims to give gap-year kids the experience of their life time that will shape their college ambitions, career, and capacity for doing good in an increasingly global world.

Most people I know who traveled or lived abroad as kids have become citizens of the world in adulthood, speaking languages beyond English, reading between the lines of news stories set on foreign shores, and exhibiting a wanderlust and curiosity satisfied only through international travel and making friends from all backgrounds. Service abroad can also have a profound impact on the host communities—check out this video about GCY and what high schoolers can do, given a chance:

If you wish the same  for yourself or your kid, read more about GCY and the application process.

Global Citizen Year founder named Mind Trust Fellow

fallinLast week The Mind Trust named Abigail Falik an Education Entrepreneur Fellow. She is the founder of Global Citizen Year.

The fellowship is a two-year “national incubator for transformative educational ventures.” Fellows earn a $90,000 annual salary plus health benefits during the fellowship term, and an additional $20,000 to spend on their work.

In the announcement, The Mind Trust explains Falik’s program — which will launch its first group next fall:

Ms. Abigail Falik was awarded The Mind Trust Fellowship to launch Global Citizen Year (GCY). GCY will engage thousands of diverse young Americans in a transformative “Bridge Year” of global service between high school and college. Falik, who won first prize at Harvard Business School’s 2008 Social Enterprise business pitch competition for GCY, is focused on America’s urgent need to prepare students for leadership in an increasingly globalized world.

To do this, GCY will recruit and train cohorts of high-potential high school students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds as GCY fellows; support fellows through apprenticeships throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America; and build a dynamic network of alumni who remain engaged in global issues during college and beyond. During the “Bridge Year,” students will receive intensive leadership and foreign language training, complete six-month international service projects, share their experiences virtually with K-12 classrooms in America, and, during their final month, lead activities about their experience in their home high schools and communities.

While GCY will prepare fellows to succeed in college, Falik also aims to use GCY to create incentives for students to graduate from high school, prepare K-12 teachers to more effectively teach about global issues, and ultimately to transform the global education landscape in the United States.

GCY’s advisory council includes the founders of Teach For America, City Year, Room to Read, Kiva.org, and Share Our Strength, the head of the National Peace Corps Association, and the Provost of the School  for International Training. Falik holds a B.A. and M.Ed. from Stanford University, and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

Read the fellowship’s F.A.Q.

Global Citizen Year is also part of the Change.org Ideas to Change America contest.

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Change.org: How Would You Change the U.S.?

The social networking site Change.org (not to be confused with Obama’s transition site Change.gov) asks you to submit and vote for the best ideas to change the United States.

Here are some of the top national and public service ideas afloat.

uspsalogoVote for the U.S. Public Service Academy, a four-year, federally subsidized, civilian counterpart to Westpoint and the other military academies. Students would attend cost-free in exchange for a commitment to a few years of public service post-graduation. Spearheaded by Echoing Green Fellow Chris Myers Asch, and backed already by many government leaders. (Listen to the Idealist.org podcast on the idea.)

Vote for a national service program to improve local infratructure. “A large yet light and fast corps of workers – not unlike President-elect Obama’s campaign infrastructure – mobilized to solve such regional blights could have a huge impact on our economy, our environment, our education, and our civic engagement and empowerment, all from the ground up.” Submitted by librarian and media ecologist Terence Fitzgerald.

Abigail Falik

Abigail Falik, Founder of Global Citizen Year

Vote for Global Citizen Year, “The world urgently needs globally engaged American leadership.  Poverty, disease and climate change affect us all, threatening global security, prosperity and survival.  Yet Americans remain dangerously uninformed and unengaged in global issues….By recruiting and training a diverse corps of emerging leaders, and supporting them as apprentices with development organizations across Asia, Africa and Latin America, we’ll ensure that many more students have the global fluencies and civic savvy they need to approach their lives with passion, perspective and purpose. ” Global Citizen Year is already incorporated as an organization, headed by Abigail Falik, with plans to launch its first corps during the fall of 2009.

Atlas Corps logoVote for a two-way international service corps. “For 47 years Americans have had the opportunity to volunteer abroad with the Peace Corps and other programs, however it is almost impossible for someone overseas to volunteer in the U.S. The U.S. Government should support a global, two-way, service corps, such as Atlas Corps, where nonprofit leaders from abroad can volunteer in the U.S. and U.S. nonprofit leaders can volunteer abroad.” Submitted by Scott Beale, the founder of Atlas Corps.

Vote for incorporating social entrepreneurship into the national service plan. “While many students will be thrilled with the loan-repayment and service opportunities provided, and will rush at the ability to as teachers in under-privelleged schools or as Peace Corps volunteers abroad, the social entrepreneurs among the undergraduate crowd need support for their style of making change as well. This group are the synthesizers that see gaps in current nonprofit service provision and create new, innovative approaches to change. Unfortunately, there is almost no regularized funding available for student social entrepreneurs to translate their student work into full time careers and full-scale nonprofits. Social venture funding is needed.” Submitted by Nathaniel Whittemore, a Chicago-based social entrepreneur.

Vote to Expand AmeriCorps. “The benefits of giving Americans a chance to serve their country radically outweigh the costs.  In addition, service is a wonderful way to give young people the resources they need to go to college.  President Obama should keep his promise to expand AmeriCorps to 250,000 members a year by immediately pushing to increase its funding, instituting a “health corps” and a “green corps,” and giving a major speech in which he personally solicits young people to make a commitment to filling these slots.  More than ever, Americans desire the opportunity to serve their country; President Obama must make that a priority immediately.” Submitted by UPenn law student, activist, and AmeriCorps Alum Adam Schwartzbaum.

The top ten ideas overall, submitted in a wide range of categories, will be presented to President-Elect Obama on inauguration day (January 20).

Voting will take place in two rounds — round one ends on December 31. The top ideas from each category will make it to round two. Read more about the Ideas for Change in America.