Lattitude Blog

Lattitude Canada’s 1st Newsletter is Here!

  • Posted by Pia at 02:03 pm on 06 March, 2017
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We’re very excited to announce our very first newsletter from the Lattitude Canada office. We’ve got a great interview with returned volunteer Connor Furneaux who spent 6 months volunteering at Anglesea YMCA Recreation Camp, southwest of Melbourne in Australia. We’ve also got some great information about new programs and how to apply.

 

LATTITUDE NEWSLETTER- Feb 2017

Gap Year Data & Benefits

  • Posted by Pia at 02:05 pm on 03 May, 2016
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During their annual conference in Boston, The American Gap Association recently announced the results of a survey study which provides some original data about Gap Year experiences. Many of the benefits we know to be true came shining through in this report.

http://www.americangap.org/data-benefits.php

Portland, OR – April 26, 2016 –
“The American Gap Association (AGA), a nonprofit accreditation and standards-setting organization for Gap Year programs, announced today results from the first-ever National Gap Year Alumni Survey. The survey is designed to identify the impact of gap year participation among college-age students.  Among other findings, the survey indicates that students who include a gap year as part of their higher education experience earn college degrees in less than four years and are almost twice as likely to vote in national elections.  The complete survey results will be unveiled during the Gap Year Annual Conference being held May 1-3, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.

“The findings indicate the social and economic value of gap year education,” said Ethan Knight, Founder and Executive Director of the American Gap Association. “As a result, the integration of gap year programming into the higher education experience is an important consideration for families, educators and policy-makers.”

The survey, which was run by the Institute for Survey Research at Temple University, was IRB approved and included approximately 1,000 American gap-year students and alumni ranging in age from 18-60 years old.  Key findings include:

  • The median time to graduation for a 4-year degree was 3.75 years. The average for students attending US colleges is six years.
  • Respondents are almost twice as likely to vote in national elections
  • 89% reported participating in community service in the last month
  • 83% of respondents indicated a GPA of 3.0 or higher. 42% reported a GPA of 3.7 (or higher)
  • 86% indicated they were satisfied or very satisfied with their jobs

“The survey findings provide conclusive evidence about the benefits gappers see in their lives,” said Karl Haigler, gap year researcher and author of The Gap-Year Advantage (St. Martin’s Press). “Making the successful transition to and through college, seeing themselves as citizens of the world and more engaged than their peers, the students represented in this study provide a powerful portrait of what’s possible when you take a gap year and learn more about yourself and the world.”

Author Rick Weissbourd Keynotes Conference

Winner of the 2014/2015 Blog Competition- Liam Donohue

  • Posted by Pia at 02:10 pm on 26 October, 2015
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The Train to Xi’an

By Liam Donohue

Train car 3, seat 100. I look up from my ticket for what might be the dozenth time, half sprinting along the train tracks towards my train-car. I’m kind of late, but mostly just excited to be out of Beijing. Nice city, but I’ve always been more of a country-side kind of guy. The sharply dressed train attendant glances at my outstretched ticket then curtly waves me aboard. I struggle down the crowded corridor, my heavily over packed orange hiking pack bouncing into my fellow passengers. In any other place I’d be apologising profusely, but this is China and a few thrown elbows mean nothing. I find my seat(which is a window seat, score!) but notice that the luggage rack is nearly full leaving no room for my colossal pack. I stare for a few moments, before I’m approached by three or four young men who offer their assistance in pretty admirable English. They proceed to tackle the situation mathematically and with a cold calculating manner, like a team of engineers. Later conversation reveals they actually are engineering students on their way home to Xi’an for summer break. I thank them and take my seat in the poorly padded chair, nesting in for the next 12 hours.

Yup, 12 hours in a hard seat, that’s what you get when you take the T train, the slowest yet cheapest train choice. I sit for a few moments looking out the window, you know, thinking real deep thoughts and such. I reflect on the last train I had been on, 8 days before. The train from Kunming, all the way down in the south up to Beijing. 33 hours cross-country in a hard seat with nothing but donuts, Chinese made Swiss rolls, and about three litres of ice tea. Really didn’t think that one through. I remember the bittersweet feel of leaving Yunnan province, the place that I had come to think of as home-base for the past few months. A mix of nerves, sadness, an excitement. It was going to be my first time on a train! 33 hours, 5 donuts and about 50 Swiss rolls later I was kind of over that initial excitement. This second time though, I was better prepared. You see, I also brought water.

I’m pulled from my reminiscing when I’m joined by a young man who takes his seat opposite of me. He looks nervously at me, as most young Chinese people do when they’re trying to work up the courage to try their English. I decide to break the ice, may as well if we’ll be stuck together for the next 20 hours or so. I greet him with a “Ni Hao Ma?”. He breaks into a grin, responding with an enthusiastic “Hao”.

“My English is not very good” he says to me.

“Better than my Chinese” I respond.

The train shudders and begins to roll. Me and my new travel buddy start to talk, and an hour later we’re pretty much best friends.  He tells me about his studies in the north of China, I tell him about life back home in Canada. He shares some “traditional Chinese sweets”, which look and taste exactly like taffy. Almost like it was Taffy. The engineering students a few seats over dish out some sunflower seeds, and I gratefully take some. I look up and down the train, taking in the scene.

China has always reminded me of a giant anthill, thousands of people scurrying around all completely set on their task ahead. Controlled chaos, and this train is no exception. The seats are all full, but no one told the ticket sellers I guess because there are dozens of people chilling out in the aisle. Food and drink is being passed around, packs of produce thrown down with burlap sacks containing possessions,  rugged looking farmers mingling with fancy dressed business folks. There’s a sign that says NO SMOKING, people have interpreted it as NO SMOKING IN YOUR SEATS and so are standing in front of the exit door by the bathroom, sharing cigarettes amongst each other and laughing at jokes. A train official is trying to push his way down the aisle with a trolley full of goods: apples, bananas, mangos, water, beer, whiskey, you know, the essentials.

My eye is drawn to an old man, who must have been pushing 200 years old. He sat casually in his seat in a blue suit, a dusty old field hat on his head, leaning slightly forward on his gold cane. He pulls a flask from his suit, sees a young lad of about 4 years of age looking at it and offers it to him. The young boy shakes his head, the old man laughs and takes a good 5-second draw from the flask before lighting a cigarette, because to hell with the rules right?

It’s complete anarchy. I love it.

As the dystopian looking outskirts of Beijing begin to fade, and are replaced by smog laden hills I can tell my travel buddy is working towards asking a question. He finally gathers the courage and says: “Can I ask you a question? I hope it will not offend you…”

I say “Sure man, go ahead.”

“I’ve seen many foreigners take this train, but I cannot remember ever seeing one sit in here. Usually they get a bed for the trip. so, why are you in here?”

I laughed a little, and responded simply: “Tài guìle”. Too expensive.

He laughed, some folks who were eavesdroppers laughed. Yeah, It was a whole lot cheaper to sit through 20 hours in a rigid chair, sleeping while sitting up and surrounded by the general noise of a hundred Chinese travelers. That’s not to say China wasn’t already cheap, but I saved every penny to get where I was, and was reluctant to spend more than was necessary. The more deals I made, the more bargains I struck, the more of this crazy country I could see.

This train ride, was one of many journeys I had in China. One of many adventures, many tales, many laughs, many trials and triumphs. Sure, I could say it was all purely financial, buying that cheap ticket on the T train. But if I were to be dropped back in that moment with a million dollars, I would have still paid for that crappy little spot on that crowded train in those rolling Chinese hills. Because the experience, the people, the stories, they’re all completely priceless.

Volunteers arrive in Poland – January 2015

  • Posted by Pia at 02:02 pm on 12 February, 2015
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Our Poland volunteers look like they’re having a good time at orientation! If you are interested in travelling to this part of the world check out the following video. It will give you a glimpse into what arrival orientation will look like … FUN!

Lattitude Canada was featured on Gen Why!

  • Posted by Pia at 02:02 pm on 12 February, 2015
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Our Lower Mainland recruiter Karen Waters was recently featured in the following video which explains some of the benefits of taking a Gap Year with Lattitude. Have a look!

International Volunteering with Lattitude – New video!

  • Posted by Pia at 10:07 am on 18 July, 2014
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More Students Should Take a Gap Year

  • Posted by Pia at 11:01 am on 22 January, 2014
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The following article published by Inside Higher Ed speaks about the growing trend in the US, UK and Australia for young people to take a Gap Year following High School. The author has done extensive research on this type of experience and discusses some of the benefits and lessons learned.

“One principal lesson is clear: We often develop most when our understandings of ourselves and the world around us are challenged — when we engage with people and ideas that are different. Despite this insight, we often prioritize comfort and self-segregate into groups of sameness. We tend to surround ourselves with people who think, talk, and look similar to us.

Taking a gap year speeds our development by upsetting these patterns. Trying to occupy another’s way of life in a different culture — living with a new family, speaking the language, integrating into a community, perhaps working with local youth, for instance — these are valuable experiences that help young people understand themselves, develop empathy and virtue, and expand their capacity to see the world from others’ perspectives.”

Please follow the link to read more!

More students should take a Gap Year

 

Pre-Departure Briefing in Vancouver – December 1, 2013

  • Posted by Pia at 04:12 pm on 02 December, 2013
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A crowd of around 100 gathered at Cambrian Hall for the twice annual pre-departure briefing where volunteers and their family members get a chance to meet one another for the first time before their upcoming gap year. As usual it was a most enjoyable day 🙂

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Lots of parents look forward to visiting their son/daughter at the placement. We enjoyed a presentation by the parents of Sarah Roberts who volunteered in Ghana. Sarah's father and younger sister visited Sarah at her placement and had a very unique experience as they got a chance to volunteer themselves at Sarah's school.

Lots of parents look forward to visiting their son/daughter at the placement. We enjoyed a presentation by the parents of Sarah Roberts who volunteered in Ghana. Sarah’s father and younger sister visited Sarah at her placement and had a very unique experience as they got a chance to volunteer themselves at Sarah’s school.

We've said this many times, we could not have done this without the support of our wonderful volunteers! Their stories and feedback and help during these briefings are invaluable.

We’ve said this many times, we could not have done this without the support of our wonderful volunteers! Their stories and feedback and help during these briefings are invaluable.

 

This time we had help from the following returned volunteers: Harry Armstrong (China 2012), Miranda Goodman (Ghana 2012), Renee Glen (Ireland 2012), Jenna Sargent (Fiji 2012), Hugh McCall (Vanuatu 2012), Justine Gage (Australia 2012), David & Cathy Roberts (parents of Sarah Roberts, Ghana 2013), Mitch Thibault (Poland 2012), Robyn Stinson (Japan 2012) and Bret Illing (New Zealand 2012). Thank you!

This time we had help from the following returned volunteers: Harry Armstrong (China 2012), Miranda Goodman (Ghana 2012), Renee Glen (Ireland 2012), Jenna Sargent (Fiji 2012), Hugh McCall (Vanuatu 2012), Justine Gage (Australia 2012), David & Cathy Roberts (parents of Sarah Roberts, Ghana 2013), Mitch Thibault (Poland 2012), Robyn Stinson (Japan 2012) and Bret Illing (New Zealand 2012). Thank you!

Gap year linked to better university grades

  • Posted by Pia at 11:09 am on 24 September, 2013
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Many parents of volunteers wonder if a gap year will get in the way or distract their child from the goal of a university education. We feel strongly that a gap year should not be a deviation from the path to university but instead a placement abroad should be part of the post-secondary plan.

But don’t take our word for it! Please take a moment to read the following article recently published in Australia, a country which embraces the concept of a gap year and has many students follow this path each year.

Study links a gap year to better university grades

 

Study and Go Abroad

  • Posted by Pia at 02:03 pm on 14 March, 2013
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Earlier this month our teams of Lattitude experts manned booths at both the Toronto and Vancouver Study and Go Abroad fairs. There we had the pleasure of speaking with local young people who were looking to step outside their local communities and study, work or volunteer abroad. The response was phenomenal and we we enjoyed the opportunity to speak with hundreds of potential volunteers.

For information on future shows please visit their website http://www.recruitincanada.com/

Do you know of a Fair or Convention in your city that Lattitude might be able to attend? Perhaps your school would be able to host us for a presentation? If so please contact info@lattitudecanada.org with information!

Melissa and Pia at the Study and Go Abroad fair in Vancouver

Melissa Vassallo and Pia Kuittinen speak with local young people at the Vancouver Study and Go Abroad fair.

Melissa and Karen at the Study and Go Abroad show in Vancouver

Melissa Vassallo and Karen Waters speak with young people at the Vancouver Study and Go Abroad fair.

David and Beverley at the Study and Go Abroad fair in Toronto

David Nield and Beverley Trull speak with local young people at the Study and Go Abroad fair in Toronto