Gap year volunteer programs are gaining in popularity across the world. The simple reason being the wealth of knowledge and real-world experience it imbibes in its participants. Gap Year volunteering abroad is a time to explore new places such as Ghana, make lasting relationships, and involve yourself in helping people or the environment, or animals in need. Gap year volunteering does not require any specific qualifications or experience. You can choose from a variety of programs and locations that best suit you.

We recommend choosing a volunteer program in your gap year that relates in some way to your future career aspirations. This not only looks great on your CV for prospective future employers but will truly bring about the passion in you when you begin working on programs. Most of our gap year programs involve helping women and children and predominantly require you to teach English or basic computer skills at our program locations worldwide. You can also volunteer on marine conservation projects with sea turtles or with wildlife or animal care volunteer projects. Medical projects are also available for gap year medics.

As a teaching volunteer in India you will be helping children ranging from 4 years to 16 years of age. You will be working in local schools in Fort Kochi – a quaint little port town in Cochin, Kerala. There are no luxuries here, we’ll tell you that now. But what you can’t beat is the smiling faces of the kids who are so passionate to learn from you. And all the amazing, interesting, humble people you meet along the way – Well they will just make your volunteer experience unforgettable from start to finish.

In a day you can expect to work in one or two different primary schools (morning and afternoon sessions) where you will be assigned to a classroom where you will be taking English lessons. As most of our volunteers are not qualified teachers we will make sure you volunteer in classrooms with only 2 to 15 children or you could be helping weaker students with one to one sessions in English. You can also teach subjects like Math and Science. If you are a qualified teacher we can assign you to children aged 12-14 years.

Once you arrive to ACCRA, we will give you all the support you need starting from appropriate training with our teaching coordinators, daily project meetings and providing you with appropriate resources to help you. In return we expect you to be enthusiastic and enjoy the experience of teaching in India.

To help us monitor progress, this teaching program does require you to thoroughly plan for any lessons you will be conducting. Allow yourself at least 1-2 hours a day for preparing for the next days sessions. Our local teaching coordinators will guide you however we do expect you to do your own research and use innovative ways to teach the children the syllabus that is given to you.

In the past volunteers have conducted classes using iPads and computers, done art based learning and outdoor sessions. Before your arrival our teaching coordinators will be sending you a plan of your first few days on the program which will include topics you will be covering. Based on this you can also bring materials such as old story books and various teaching aids such as flash cards that are useful for young learners, as well as your iPads or computers that can help you whilst you lesson plan.

A gap year offers you the opportunity to gain skills and experiences, while giving you time to reflect and focus on what you want to do next.

  • A productive gap year can be valuable on your CV – many employers value the experiences students have gained if they’ve actively managed their time, set themselves goals, and stretched themselves.
  • A gap year can also enhance your higher education studies – if you decide to apply for uni, you could tailor your gap year to relate it to the subject area you plan to study.
  • Admissions tutors know that some students may take a little time to adjust to studying again, but many former gap year students are generally more focused and responsible.

Why do you want to take a year out?

It’s really important to set goals to make your time productive, so you need to identify what you want to achieve. You might want to:

  • have a break from study
  • gain new skills/experiences
  • earn money
  • spend time deciding what you want to do
  • do a combination of the above

A year out isn’t an option that suits everyone – for some, it may be advisable not to take a break between studies. Here are some pros and cons to consider.

An opportunity to have a break from studying and return refreshed. You can volunteer, get valuable work experience, and travel the world.Some people find a year out becomes a distraction from their longer term plans.
A productive gap year can be valuable on your CV.An unstructured year out may not add much value to your future – careful thought and planning is essential.
You could relate the experience and activities to the subject area you plan to study.It can be harder to return to study or work after a year-long break.
You can earn and save money towards your higher education costs or future plans.It can be expensive and you could find yourself in a worse financial position at the end.
You will develop maturity if you don’t yet feel ready for higher education or work life. For some careers, it can be an advantage to be slightly older and have some life experience.If you don’t get organized, you may end up spending your gap year just ‘thinking about it’.

Gap year ideas, what can you do?

  • Volunteering – support a worthwhile cause and gain valuable experience. You could take part in a wildlife conservation project, teach children, or help build a school in a third world country.
  • Travel – explore the world, discover new cultures, and develop your independent living skills at the same time! You could go backpacking across South East Asia, InterRail through Europe, or buy a round the world plane ticket!
  • Work experience – if you want to gain relevant experience and skills for a particular career or subject you plan to study, you could consider a work placement or internship. These can last from a few weeks to a year. Depending on the type of contract on offer, you may or may not receive a salary. These are very popular and competition for places is high, so you will need to apply early. 
  • Part-time courses – why not take the opportunity to try something new? You could take up a new language, learn how to programme, try a new sport or music instrument, or learn a new practical skill, such as mechanics, carpentry, or cookery. 

Gap year tips

  • What do you want to achieve from a gap year? New skills, experience, or do you want more time to consider your future? Set goals to make your time productive – think about getting the right balance between time spent and benefits gained.
  • How much time can you be away and when? What do you want to spend your time doing and where? Are you going to work, are there interests or hobbies you can take further, or do you want to help others by volunteering? What value will it add to your study, your CV, or career?
  • How much money will you need? Unless you’re planning to work or have some financial help, you are going to need money. Set yourself a realistic budget that you can afford to stick to. Costs vary considerably, so research carefully and don’t forget to add things like flights, visas, accommodation, insurance, and vaccinations (you can check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website for information on vaccinations).