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AFS Global Prep
Topic Started: Sun Feb 1, 2015 9:25 pm (1,093 Views)
Hollie

Does anybody know much about the Global Prep program with AFS? It looks really interesting, as I want to do a gap year exchange, but that's a few years away and I'd love to get some international experience beforehand. However, there's not too much info about it on the AFS website and it looks like this is the very first year they're doing it, so there's no blogs or anything I can read to find out more. Can anybody tell me more? Like maybe somebody who works with AFS? :)
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heidi

I don't know too much *specifically* about the program - just what I've read about it. In my opinion, it seems really short - only about two weeks. If you want a summer abroad experience, the best bet (both financially and for cultural immersion) would to choose a month or two month long program where you live with a host family and have very little interaction with other exchange students/foreigners. In a lot of summer programs, you end up spending a lot of time with other exchange students, which is not the best for cultural immersion.

One program that offers substantial scholarships is the CIEE high school abroad program. I received a nearly full scholarship from them the first year the program opened, in summer 2013. I went to Dakar, Senegal - a program that seems to have been cancelled. They revamped the programs substantially since that first year, but they offer more destinations now. The programs are about a month, you live with a host family, you usually have the ability to take language classes, and many programs offer community service and/or the opportunity to take classes in a specific "theme". From what I see (http://www.ciee.org/high-school-summer-abroad/#), the programs seem to have become more specialized (on one specific theme) since I went abroad. In a lot of summer programs, you really get out of them what you put into them. This is true for all exchanges, but especially true for summer exchanges because it's easier to spend more time with other exchange students and treat it more like a "vacation". For example, even though my program had me spending a lot of time with the other exchange students (community service with them in the morning, though I spent most of that time chatting with Senegalese volunteers), and then we took probably three hours of classes together in the afternoon, and usually had some sort of short outing with them in the evening. However, outside of that, most of the people on my program opted to spend their free time together, while I spent it with my host family. So summer exchanges are really different than semester/year exchanges, but you can get a lot out of them, and you definitely get out of them what you put into them.

Maybe someone else has more experience with AFS summer programs? My advice would be, definitely try to find a long program in which you spend as little time as possible with other foreigners.

Sorry, this kinda got off the original Global Prep theme, but I hope some of it is helpful :)
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weblet

That is helpful, heidi. Nothing wrong with comparing programs! Global Prep is a summer program only. It's not really "new", just a repackaged version of an old program, with some new tweaks. And heidi is correct - summer programs are nothing like a semester or year program. If a summer program is the only way you can go, then certainly take advantage of one. But if what you want is the true exchange experience, I would pursue the semester/year options.
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mburucuja

I didn't do global prep, but I did a similar-sounding program in China right after my Paraguay exchange. If you have any questions about AFS or that general type of program, let me know!

If you can easily afford a short program now and a year later on, then go for it. Otherwise, definitely hold out for the longer experience. If you're looking to get your foot in the door with exchange, host! That's honestly way better prep for exchange than a short trip.

I love some of the Global Prep country options, but I'm always going to recommend the longest program possible. While summer programs don't compare to year/semester ones, 2 weeks with a group of Americans definitely doesn't compare to 6 weeks living with a host family either! For me, Paraguay and Mexico (I was in each for a semester) are home. Turkey (where I was for ~8 weeks) is a familiar place. I feel more of a connection to China (where I was for 3 weeks) through my Chinese friends who studied in the US than through my trip.
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Matsunoki
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YFU started a program like this too. My assumption is that it's to attract students whose parents wouldn't allow a typical homestay or who can't afford it (while these programs are expensive, they're still half the cost of a typical summer program), or who for some other reason can't be away from home that long (sports? I don't know).

In that sense, I'm glad something exists for people in the above situations to still get a good cultural experience, and it's good business for the programs to increase the number of people who can participate in their programs (besides money, they're future volunteers and hosts, maybe even longer-term students), but I also agree that longer experiences with more direct cultural immersion are better.
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Hollie

Sorry, I haven't checked in a long time, but thank you for all the replies!
I've decided that doing a summer program would cost about all the money I have, and I don't want to spend it all now. It's too late to apply for scholarships now, so I'm thinking next year I will apply for a summer program scholarship, and then apply for a gap year the year after that.
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mburucuja

I think that's likely a wise decision. :)
Definitely consider hosting in the coming years!
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