The Carpe Diem Experience
Seize the Journey
Inspiring growth and transformation through experiential education, community and intercultural exchange.
We believe that we are the best at what we do and take pride in our ability to never settle for “good”. We believe that volunteering is the best way to bridge the cultural divide. That working side by side with the locals, something is exchanged that words simply cannot communicate. We believe in the power of community. At the beginning of every semester we sit down together and get clear about everyone’s individual reasons for doing this program. From those reasons we design a set of agreements that we live with throughout the program. It is the power of the students to change those by consensus at any time. We believe that everybody grows by having their comfort zones pushed in manageable amounts. Our leaders will at times push comfort zones with assignments and activities. We believe that the international experience is far more culturally authentic and safer without the use of drugs and alcohol. We believe in the empowerment of each student. Our leaders ask students to organize their own portion of the program, complete with managing committees, budgets, travel, food, accommodation, and activities. Everyone will work with the leaders to organize a portion of their own semester. Lastly, we firmly believe in the growth and inherent value of every student, that every student returns home a changed individual and global citizen.
We place a great emphasis on community.
To us community is a group of people creating a positive, supportive and compassionate place in which to live and grow. In the context of our programs, community exists on multiple levels. There is a core community that is established among students and overseas educators while on semester, designed to create a safe environment for personal growth and connection. There are communities we live and work alongside while traveling, our in-country contacts, our communities at home, and ultimately, the global community that we all share. Within the Carpe Diem experience, we believe that it is important to support and engage with all of these layers of community.
Some of the ways in which we strive to cultivate and strengthen community include:
- Traveling together as a small group, throughout the entire program
- Community building exercises during orientation that focus on team-building and group dynamics
- Our Overseas Educators facilitate regular group meetings throughout the semester, to create space for students to reflect, process and connect with each other
- Immersing ourselves in the places we visit through home stays and service projects and working alongside local parnters
We consider everyone that we work and interact with a part of our community. We are proud to call our students, our Alumni, our office staff and our overseas educators a part of our Carpe Diem Family.
It takes a village.
Our headquarters staff, based out of Portland, Oregon, ensure a smooth experience from your time as an applicant to an alumni. They are connected to the field by their past experiences leading our semester trips, committed to continuing their professional development, certified wilderness first responders, and genuinely compassionate people who strive to inspire growth and transformation through experiential education, community and intercultural exchange.
When it comes to selecting our Overseas Educators, we don’t mess around. Safety is our priority, but other attributes are essential in Overseas Educators including cultural competence, understanding group dynamics, mentoring, and strong problem solving/communication skills. All Overseas Educators have in country experience, wilderness first aid certifications and participate in an extensive in-house training prior to each semester. We’re amazed by our Overseas Educators, and are sure you will be too!
- Every student, regardless of their race, color, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, or disability, or economic status has the right to equal opportunity and the right to achieve academic success.
- Taking a gap year has traditionally been financially accessible and culturally acceptable to students from upper or middle-class, primarily Caucasian, families. This has created, and continues to create, barriers for students from diverse backgrounds to participate in a Gap Year, leading to a dearth of holistic diversity in this educational opportunity.
- In order to address and remove these barriers, organizations must be proactive in reaching and holistically supporting students from diverse backgrounds, throughout the entire recruitment, admissions, travel, and homecoming process.
- By investigating with diverse perspectives, there is much to be gained by all students in terms of education, awareness, and impact.
- Our mission and learning outcomes are centered on community, cultural exchange, and experiential education. We not only strive to accomplish these outcomes through traveling to different countries and exploring diverse cultural perspectives while abroad, but also see the inherent value and cultural exchange that occurs through having diversity within the traveling group itself.
- Through our partnership with Portland State University, students are able to receive a full semester of university credit and have access to federal financial aid (FAFSA). This lowers the access barriers significantly.
- By providing a necessary and more tangible value for this experience (college credit) families without expendable income are more able to participate.
- Offering college credit through Portland State University opens the door to students and families of diverse backgrounds that are reliant on FAFSA to meet their higher education needs.
- In 2010 we founded our sister organization and non-profit, Carpe Mundi who’s mission is to serve low income, first-generation youth in Portland Oregon. Through this program, students attend a Carpe Diem Education semester program and receive a full year of mentorship, a summer internship, and enrollment in College at no cost to the student. To date we have sent over 40 Carpe Mundi students on our programs and we hope to continue growing that number. More information can be found on the Carpe Mundi website.
- We keep our costs low. Our overall program prices and the cost per day of our programs are amongst the lowest in the industry allowing students of differing socio-economic backgrounds a greater opportunity to partake in a Gap Year.
- Carpe Diem Education offers in house scholarships and flexible payment plans for students and families who qualify for financial aid. These scholarships vary and are based upon families EFC (estimated family contribution from their FAFSA), monthly income and expenses, and a written statement of need.
- To increase the diversity and inclusivity within our community of staff, administration, local contacts, and students through active recruitment and retention efforts. We define diversity broadly to include social categories such as race, ethnicity, gender and sexual identity, socioeconomic status, nationality, citizenship, physical ability, religious beliefs, political viewpoints, age, and experience.
- To foster a culture of self-reflection and education around diversity and inclusivity in our staff, students, and greater community. We recognize that cultural shifts occur through individual awareness. Therefore we strive to examine our own relationship to social categories such as race, class, and gender and the way it affects the work we do. This may include but is not limited to activities such as: Bi-annual all-staff diversity trainings.
- To create a student and staff community that is reflective of broader demographics.
Our Local Friends and Partners
At Carpe Diem, we believe that all students, regardless of socioeconomic background, should have access to transformative education. In 2008 Carpe Diem Education founded Carpe Mundi an independent non-profit organization that supports Portland area low-income and first-generation college students. Each year, Carpe Mundi provides a cohort of students with
on-going academic and personal support, cohort-based experiential and international learning opportunities, and access to local resources for completing college, gaining work skills, and becoming leaders in their communities. Through this partnership, Carpe Diem Education provides scholarships to each of the Carpe Mundi students to participate in a group semester program.
AMERICAN GAP ASSOCIATION
The American Gap Association (AGA) is a not for profit accreditation and standards-setting organization for Gap Years that is recognized as such by the US Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. Accreditation by AGA represents a commitment to the highest standards in safety, quality, and integrity. AGA objectively runs organizations through a rigorous set of 125 standards and backstops the information gathering with student alumni, program partners, and the staff of each organization. What does that mean to you? It means that a student can count on an experience with the highest caliber of field leadership, the best degree of office support, the best structure, and the highest standards of safety in the industry. Carpe Diem Education was one of the first organizations to be accredited by the AGA.