Core Components

The Novogratz Bridge Year Program is a structured nine-month program focusing on service learning and cultural immersion. Volunteers spend the duration of their Bridge Year in one of five international locations. We currently offer programs sites in Bolivia, China, India, Indonesia, and Senegal. Regardless of the location, the Bridge Year experience includes the following core components:

  • The volunteer placement. Bridge Year students are placed in community-based organizations that address local concerns. At each assignment, participants work closely and collaboratively with service site colleagues and mentors, gaining a greater understanding of the community and the lived experiences of its members.
  • The host family experience. Bridge Year volunteers live with families within the community where they serve. The homestay experience allows students to build meaningful personal relationships, develop and master language skills, and more fully engage in daily life.
  • Language training. Program participants receive intensive language training from local instructors. Conversational competence is stressed so that participants can quickly apply language learning to their service work and communicate more effectively with others.
  • Enrichment activities. Students participate in a variety of cultural enrichment activities including group lectures, workshops, retreats, day trips, and overnight excursions. Students also receive program support to pursue individual interests in areas such as local music, dance, visual arts, cooking, sports, religion, traditional medicine, and indigenous languages.
  • On-site staff.  At each site, the student experience is supported by two full-time staff members.  Staff are available 24/7 and work closely with students to maintain a healthy, safe, and engaging learning environment on site.
  • Peer support. Students are placed in small groups at each program location, allowing for valuable peer-to-peer learning and support throughout their time abroad.
  • Program house.  A centrally-located program house provides volunteers with a place to meet with on-site staff, cook and share meals, and host guest speakers and performances. All program houses have a kitchen, library, lounge areas, and internet access.