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Program Overview

In the photo: Erica Lin, Ecuador '15, Binghamton University


Choosing a bridge year means you’re choosing to expand your world.

It’s not your typical freshman year, and you’re not a typical freshman.

For the adventurous, the curious, and those driven to make an impact, this is the year for you.

Learn more about our unique program experience.

Global Citizen Year Fellow, Alcy Magana, at her apprenticeship at a local radio station in during her global gap year in Ecuador


Prepare for your Global Citizen Year by building the leadership, language, and cultural skills for a successful year abroad with tools like Rosetta Stone and online trainings. Receive coaching and support to mobilize your local community to raise $2,500 for the Fellows Fund from which scholarships for Fellows are drawn. You’ll develop your entrepreneurial skills while helping keep Global Citizen Year accessible to all students.

With suitcases in hand, Global Citizen Year Fellows prepare to depart for their gap year abroad.


Meet your global cohort for Pre-Departure Training in the Redwoods of California and at Stanford University. Packed with world-class speakers and leadership challenges, this week-long training sets the foundation for your Global Citizen Year experience. By the time you board your international flight, you’ll be surrounded by a crew of close friends and prepared for the adventure ahead.

Global Citizen Year Fellows working together on their first leadership challenge before departing for their gap year abroad.


Get grounded. During this month-long orientation, you’ll receive intensive language instruction from a tutor and the training you need to navigate a new culture and stay safe and healthy. You’ll also receive your community placement and apprenticeship! During In-Country Orientation you will live in a major city and see staff and Fellows most days. You’ll begin by housing with other Fellows, and will later stay with a short-term host-family to get a first taste of local life.

Global Citizen Year Fellow, Danielle Spencer, poses for a photo with her host family during her gap year abroad in Ecuador


Become part of the family. You’ll get to know and participate in the culture at an intimate level by being a part of your host family’s daily life. Homestays range from urban to very rural, and families come from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds. Host families are carefully selected and trained by Global Citizen Year staff according to health, safety, and cultural criteria. Each Fellow is matched one-to-one with a host-family to ensure a truly immersive experience.

Isaac King, Global Citizen Year Fellow, collects harvested vegetables while working at a farm during his gap year in Brazil


Learn and contribute at a local project or organization. Work alongside members of your community on projects that really matter. Gain satisfying work experience in fields like environmental conservation, education, public health, agriculture, or social enterprise. Your apprenticeship is just the starting point of your community engagement; join a local sports team, build a community garden, or learn traditional dance. You’ll have the time and independence to shape your experience, pursue your passions, and discover new ones.

Receive one-on-one coaching and mentorship from your Global Citizen Year Team Leader every few weeks.

Reconnect with Fellows and staff during regular trainings. At weeklong Training Seminars, your cohort will participate in cultural activities, discuss global development, and learn from each other’s experiences. In between Training Seminars (scheduled every 8 weeks), you’ll get together with nearby Fellows for daylong Regional Reconnects and weekly language classes.

Global Citizen Year Fellows run through a human tunnel made by their peers, celebrating the final training of their global gap year


Celebrate and process your experience at Re-Entry Training. After a final Training Seminar abroad, your country cohort will return to San Francisco and reunite with the global Fellows. Re-Entry Training is a valuable week to reflect, share, celebrate, and prepare for the transition home. Once back in your home community, you will top off your bridge year with Capstone projects where you’ll share your story, foster global awareness, inspire others, and broaden the impact of your bridge year.

Global Citizen Year Alumni with the city lights of Ecuador behind them. All smiles after their gap year


Your bridge year is just the beginning. As an alumnus you join a growing corps of Global Citizens. Together, this network of inspiring young leaders is bringing global awareness, first-hand experience, and critical insight to communities across the world. As part of the Global Citizen Year network, you have access to ongoing support, trainings, internships, and many more opportunities throughout your college career and beyond. You have friends for life and connections around the globe!


Pick a country to explore

After 7 months living in Senegal, I cannot imagine what my life would have been like had I gone straight to college. During my Global Citizen Year I became an integrated member of a community an ocean away from my physical and psychological home.``
- Gus Ruchman, Senegal '11, Harvard University

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