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Africa & Asia Venture (AV) 10 week countdown to your Summer Gap

Date added: Friday 1st May 2015

If you aren’t sure about taking a year out of college, an Africa and Asia Venture (AV) summer project, might just be for you. From the moment you make the decision to take part, you will be learning and implementing invaluable skills – from effective communication to persuading people to sponsor you, to financial and budgeting skills, problem solving, organisation and planning as well as commitment to something you believe in. And all this before you even arrive at your placement!

Africa and Asia Venture (AV) summer projects depart in just under 10 weeks. You can experience five weeks on an overseas community-volunteering project together with time for adventure and travel – great for those on a mini gap year, after university or for the summer break.

Interested? Then check out our ultimate preparation guide below…..

Day 1: Make the decision that you want to do it and believe you can make it happen. AV has already supported over 5,500 people and we know you can do it too.

Convince, persuade and inspire your parents, other relatives and friends that:

  • A shorter summer program offers the same experience and cultural immersion as a full gap year, but doesn’t involve the commitment of taking an entire year off. Our dedicated five-week programs offer you the chance to become more independent and self- aware.
  • Recent research shows that students who take a Gap Year (a Gap Year can be anything from 5 weeks, to 3 months, to a full year) are more mature, self-reliant and independent than non Gap Year students.
  • Taking some time off over the summer to completely step away from academics allows for renewed motivation and interest in study.
  • Gap Year and summers abroad have been the norm for many years in the UK, but the U.S is catching on too. The number of high-ranking colleges in the U.S supporting the gap year option is on the rise helping with finance and offering scholarships (lucky them!)
  • A staggering 88% of Gap Year students report that their travel experience had significantly added to their employability on leaving College.
  • Tell your parents we can also put them in touch with other parents of former gap year students who can tell them about their experience and answer all their questions.

Week 1: Get serious

  • Apply! It takes 2 minutes to fill in and you don’t need to pay anything at this stage.and they will be in touch to guide you through the next steps of the application and stay in contact throughout the programme and after you return.
  • Budget! One of the best things about joining AV’s summer programs is the low cost in comparison to other ventures. You can spend 5 weeks living and working in amazing communities across Africa and Asia for as little as £1695/$2523US. With some creative thinking and fundraising efforts, this is yours for the taking.
  • AV will send you a step-by-step fundraising pack to help you reach your financial target. From deciding on your financial goals, to planning and holding fundraisers, they have everything you need to succeed.
  • Think about how you can raise the money for the project. We recommend dividing the goal into 3 areas: employment, fundraising and sponsorship.
  • Check your Passport! It may sound obvious but the one thing that soon to be travellers often forget is to make sure that a) you have a valid passport and b) if you do already have a passport, make sure it has at least 6 months left on it. Otherwise you’ll need to apply for a new one.

Week 2: Get earning, get saving, get fundraising

  • Whether it’s a regular job or a one-off there are ways to earn money. Multiply the number of hours you can work between now and your project by the rate you can earn and that should be your earnings target.
  • Resist the temptation to spend what you are earning. We know it’s hard, but the rewards will be worth the sacrifice.
  • Continue brainstorming fundraising ideas. Think about some sort of event you could put together. Think about your skills and those of the people around you – there are 100 things you could do to raise some money!
  • Persuade a friend to join you – you can work together to fundraise and plan and increase the range of people who may be able to support you.
  • Chat with the AV team via skype or in person – they will go through everything you need to know about your project and will send you a fundraising pack.

Weeks 3-4: Get personal

  • Set aside 3 evenings to write to people and any local businesses and organisations that might sponsor your project.
  • Think about how you can make your fundraising relevant to potential sponsors-how will the money help and why is it important?
  • Friends, family and school advisors may have ideas about whom you can approach. Our fundraising pack has a draft letter you can adapt to get you started.
  • Be sure to email people individually – they are far more likely to respond to you than if they know you took the time to ask them personally.

Weeks 5-6: Get yourself into shape

  • Contact your doctor to set up an appointment to discuss any immunisation / anti-malarial medications that you’ll need.
  • Learn how to cook a few basic meals perhaps some favourites when you get a craving for those home comforts. A couple of hearty pasta dishes using basic ingredients would be ideal
  • Think about what you want to achieve from your project. Share what you are doing on social media – people will be excited to follow what you’re up to and hopefully support you along the way
  • Promote your fundraising efforts. Get in touch with your local newspaper and local radio station and grab their interest to help make the project come to life for both you and your sponsors.
  • Hold a fundraising event. It’s important to keep costs as low as possible so the money you raise goes directly towards your trip. For example, fill up your parent’s car with balloons (no baked beans!) and charge passers by to guess how many there are inside. Our fundraising pack has more details and tips on how to plan this and many other activities.

Weeks 7-9: Get informed & share your progress

  • Start researching your chosen country. Find out a little bit more about its culture and traditions and maybe even learn how to say hello and thank you in the language of the country you’ll be visiting; a little local knowledge will go a long way.
  • Get in touch with AV alumni to find out about their experience and take the opportunity to ask a lot of questions. This is an ideal chance to find out what life is like when you’re a volunteer overseas from someone who’s already been there and done it and will make the whole experience really come to life.
  • Use our kit list to buy the things you’ll need for the trip. If you buy through Amazon, you can raise money for The AV Foundation at the same time. It doesn’t cost you anything, but the AV Foundation receives a contribution every time you buy.
  • Stay motivated by keeping in touch with our team and following what other volunteers are up to via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or on our blog.
  • Share your fundraising plans with us so we can shout about what you’re doing as well! You might feature on our blog or social media accounts. You could create your own blog too.

Final week: Get excited!

  • By now you’ll be packing the last of your things and will be almost set to go. You may only be gone for a matter of weeks but make sure you’ve got things covered while your away i.e mobile phone payments, automatic email replies and early birthday cards so you don’t stress when overseas.
  • Pat yourself on the back. You’ve already achieved a fantastic amount and now you get to start the most amazing 5 weeks of your life experiencing an entirely new culture and making a genuine impact on the community you will be working in.
  • Last, but not least, say your goodbyes to your family, friends and sponsors. You may only have sporadic access to Internet and phones but reassure them you’ll be in touch as and when you can.
  • Savour every minute. You will return a different person than when you left but all in a good way! You’ll be more independent, mature, self aware and best of all, motivated and refreshed to continue your studies or start work.
  • You can also continue to make a difference in other ways by putting your new volunteering skills to good use in the UK and of course we’d love to see you again at Africa & Asia Venture (UK).

Article by Jennifer Taylor

Africa and Asia Venture (AV) is a not-for-profit organisation offering meaningful volunteering experiences in the developing world. We need global citizens and through this cultural exchange and connection between communities, we are making that happen. You are also helping to support and fund its charity, the AV Foundation, which works to improve the quality of education in partner communities by constructing and renovating school buildings to improve facilities.