Gap years are common in England and Australia, but it’s not common for Canadian students to get a semester between high school and university to explore the world.
Brock has launched the Global Transitions program, a mini gap year program that sees students fresh out of high school spend a semester in Ghana. For the past 12 weeks, six students have done volunteer work in schools and hospitals to learn more about the world – and themselves. They get academic credit for the 12-week program. The group returned on Friday, Dec. 2.
The program was developed by Kim Meade, Brock’s Associate Vice-President Student Services, along with International Services and Programs Abroad and the Centre for Intercultural Studies. Meade was travelling in Australia when she noticed that Australian students benefited from having an international learning experience between high school and university, and thought Brock students might too.
“We wanted an international opportunity to broaden their perspective and give them a significant experience outside the classroom,” Meade said.
Two students developed programs and activities for children at a hospital in Ghana. Four worked in a school. Five are directly out of high school.
“Everyone who participated in it has said the experience is life changing,” said Christina Bosilo, manager of international learning programs with International Services and Programs Abroad. “Even if this is their only international experience for the rest of their lives, they will have gained a high level of intercultural competency skills. These are things you cannot learn from a textbook.”
One student said she wanted to travel to new places in the world, but didn’t want to run the risk of not starting university, Bosilo said. Being in Ghana gave her a new outlook on life.
“When they come back, they’ll be so much more worldly and add such depth to the seminars they’re in,” Bosilo said.
Ghana was chosen because Brock has several ties to the country, including an exchange with the University of Ghana at Legon. The students had a summer orientation and took an online orientation course before they left in September.