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University Pays for Gap Years

By  March 24, 2014

Apply for a $1500 travel grant: the latest news in work, study and volunteer abroad.


Volunteer Abroad News

• It’s not a new argument—or even a new issue. But it is one of the first times that the dialogue about the effectiveness of voluntourism has allegedly “gone viral,” after Pippa Biddle wrote an article entitled “The Problem With Little White Girls, Boys and Voluntourism.” Responses to her post are still pouring in, including this one by the Director of International Communications and Policy at the Canadian Co-operative Association on why voluntourism still matters.

According to the American Gap Association, gap years are on the increase, as more students than ever before are taking a year off before starting university. But it can be a costly endeavor, which is why Tufts University’s initiative to pay students to take gap years is the biggest news this week. Tufts is one of several American universities that are beginning to recognize the value of students taking a year off to travel and volunteer abroad before starting post-secondary. Launching this fall, the program will pay for housing, airfare and even visa fees.

Study Abroad News

• Generation Study Abroad, a new initiative that aims to increase the number of American students overseas, has gained traction. By the end of February, more than 156 colleges and universities across the States had pledged to increase study abroad scholarships, improve training for advisors and expand student diversity.

• Last term, a student who was part of a study abroad program was raped in Costa Rica. The fallout included two of her advisors losing their jobs. There’s some good news in this bad news story though—the incident is causing the institution to exhaustively review its study abroad risk management policies and student orientation on a per country basis. Hopefully other institutions will follow suit to account for cultural differences. 

• Juanita Lillie studied abroad in Costa Rica during her winter semester. But it was no easy feat—she’s legally blind. To help other students overcome obstacles that prevent them from studying abroad Lillie has launched “Abroad With Disabilities,” a forum that she hopes will improve inclusivity and remove barriers.

Work Abroad News

• Working abroad sounds like a dream. But for a lot of expats, the culture shock can result in relationship problems and depression. For the jetsetting crowd, there’s been a growth in the number of therapists who specialize in counseling expats.

• Trying to figure out where to work abroad? This guide outlines the top 10 places to start your career overseas.

• China’s pollution problem has been recurring news in the last six months, especially as expats are starting to pack up for fresher air. So what’s to be done? Panasonic, for one, has started offering its employees a “smog bonus” for employees sent to Chinese cities “as a premium for a difficult and sometimes harsh living environment.”

Required Reading

• “Two Years After KONY 2012, Has Invisible Children Grown Up? In March 2012, a human rights organization’s documentary about a central African despot became the most viral video of all time, and the ensuing furor resulted in its leader’s bizarre public meltdown. On the second anniversary of the phenomenon, everyone involved is still figuring out what it all means.”

• “The Guide to Sustainable Tourism 2014.

• "2 Canadians arrested for taking naked photos at Machu Picchu."

Contests & Opportunities

• Got a travel project or dream trip in mind? Passion Passport wants to help you make it happen. They’ve recently opened up another round of funding for their Bucket List Initiative, a $1500 travel grant program. The deadline to apply is March 28. 

Got a news tip or opportunity that you’d like to see included in our “travel with purpose” news round-up? Send us an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Published in Editor's Desk
Jessica Lockhart

Contributing Editor

Although Jessica has travelled to more than 30 countries, her favorite place to throw down her bag is still her hometown of Cold Lake, Alberta. A freelance journalist, Jess has worked for international development organizations and tour operators. She’s conducted workshops in Vanuatu, perfected the use of a satellite phone in the jungles of Guyana and supervised teenage pool parties in the Dominican Republic. Although she's based in Toronto, Jess works remotely from all around the world.

Website: www.jesslockhart.com

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