FSD's Gap Year Program Gives Students International Experience


Our Gap Year program offers 9-52 week placements at any FSD site with one of our 300 Community
. It's an intense, immersive program for pre-college students 17+ looking to gain international development experience and training.

Fund your FSD experience: explore our Funding Resources page to learn more about scholarships, grants, and fundraising campaigns.

Alejandro Sutphen: Through FSD I was able to make my gap year a memorable and influential experience. My internship cemented a drive to learn about international affairs and development, and made me excited to go back to school where I could learn and be ambitious about my studies.
Read more of Alejandro's experience here > >

The program commonly acts as a catalyst for building a career in development, strengthening applications for graduate programs, or cultivating relationships with international communities and organizations. Internships run year-round, depending on your time schedule and the breadth of experience you wish to attain.

The structured program consists of several components that prepare and provide you with the support and guidance needed to implement successful projects in a sustainable manner. Your internship will involve home-stays, an on-site orientation, development training, grantwriting, and ultimately project implementation to ensure that the work makes a lasting impact on you and the community you serve.

FSD Site Team Support Each program site features a locally born Program Director and at least one Program Coordinator from the United States. Together, they will develop a solid working relationship with you, integrating you into the community and ensuring that you have the tools to be successful in your work. They will evaluate each step of your work, including your needs assessment, work plan, and grant proposal to provide you with critical feedback. The FSD Site Team will address any problems that arise throughout your internship, ensuring that your time abroad is well spent.

Initially, you will stay in a hostel with the group and then move on to your host family. All interns live individually with host families for at least the first 9 weeks of their internship. This will ensure your full immersion into the local language and culture while providing a chance to form relationships with an extended family and community.

Upon completion of your initial orientation, the FSD Site Team will introduce you to your direct supervisor at the host organization. During this stage, you will familiarize yourself with the organization and its staff by interviewing them and gaining a full understanding of the resources, people, and projects currently in progress. Typically, you will be the only FSD participant placed with the organization to ensure your immersion into the local culture.

Throughout your internship, FSD supports you with a series of development tools to ensure the success of your project work. Initially you will learn the most pressing health, economic, environmental, educational, and human rights related development issues and initiatives in the local region. You will then be trained by speakers, readings, and resource materials on more specific topics related to development.

Once you have jointly prepared a work plan, you and the organization will be given a $300 seed grant to support its implementation. (Programs 13 weeks or longer receive additional seed funding.) If additional funds are integral to your project work, FSD offers a grant competition. To be involved, you will participate in grantwriting training and, subsequently, will write a grant proposal to FSD for up to $800.

The bulk of your internship will involve working directly in the community to actualize your work plan with the support of your organization, supervisor, and community contributors. The FSD Site Team will be at arm’s reach throughout, assisting your work and providing for your needs.

Group Sessions/Midterm Retreat – You will meet bi-monthly with your group and FSD to share resources, develop project work, confront cultural issues, and process the internship experience. At the mid-point of your internship, you may participate in a group retreat that allows you to relax with your peers, remove yourself from the work, and travel outside of the community.

Project Report/Sustainability Plan – To summarize what you learned, accomplished, and experienced, you will submit a brief report for our project site and partner organizations. If you received a grant from FSD, you will explain how the grant was applied and detail the community/organizational resources to ensure project sustainability.

These elements make up the bulk of your internship with FSD. Upon completion, you will have significant experience in international development and hold a substantial body of work and knowledge to support your future goals.