Princeton has launched a program that offers incoming freshmen the opportunity to defer enrollment and spend a year volunteering abroad. Starting this fall, its Bridge Year Program offers 20 students a 9-month stint in a foreign country — immersing in a new culture and serving the local community. The best part is Princeton will cover most of the program costs. The goal is for these students to develop a new way of looking at the world and to have a deep appreciation for the importance of serving society and the world. Princeton hopes the experience abroad will challenge assumptions and will encourage innovative thinking and self-discovery.
The participants will live in home stays, have language training, have access to peer support, serve in a community organization, and become a part of local society. Princeton is offering placement in Ghana, India, Peru, and Serbia through four partner organizations. To help gain a deeper understanding of the host country, program partners will offer overnight excursions, daytrips, and a variety of other activities free of charge throughout the year.
Interestingly, University President Shirley M. Tilghman makes it clear that serving abroad doesn’t imply that other countries are “more needy, or because service there is intrinsically more worthwhile, but because experience gained abroad would heighten our students’ international awareness.” In October, Princeton released a report titled “Princeton in the World” on its global initiatives.
It’s clear that Princeton sees value in volunteer travel abroad and has made the investment to support this endeavor. We believe Princeton is the first among universities to offer this type of program for its admitted pre-college students.
Is Princeton a trendsetter? Will other academic institutions follow and offer similar programs to enrich its incoming students?
[via the new service]
photos: princeton global initiatives