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Friday, Oct. 24, 2014

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Bridge Year participants to serve in Peru, Ghana, Serbia and India

Administrators of Princeton University's new Bridge Year Program have selected three program partners and four locations around the world where students who have accepted an offer of admission to the University will spend a tuition-free enrichment period focused on public service.

The program will launch this spring when 20 entering freshmen are selected for the pilot group to defer their enrollment and spend nine months abroad beginning this fall. A total of 100 students eventually will be accommodated each year.

The partners and locations that have been selected are:

"Bridge Year students will be exposed to a variety of community-based development projects and will work closely with on-site staff to identify and develop an individualized service placement at a school, social service agency, community center or other local service organization," said John Luria, director of the Bridge Year Program. "We hope that this experience will give students both an international perspective and a deep appreciation for the importance of serving society and the world."

The proposal for the program was among several international engagement efforts outlined in the "Princeton in the World" initiative announced by President Shirley M. Tilghman and Provost Christopher Eisgruber in fall 2007. The program was created when a working group of faculty, students and staff endorsed the proposal last summer after spending a semester assessing its feasibility and forming recommendations on key elements.

Princeton's partners are experienced providers of learning opportunities for young people abroad and have exceptional records of success and safety. World Learning, which is sponsoring two of the programs, was established 75 years ago and currently operates in more than 70 countries. It is able to draw on leadership in the field of secondary school exchanges, university-level programs and community development projects through its four core program areas -- the Experiment in International Living, SIT Study Abroad, the SIT Graduate Institute and World Learning Development Programs.

Founded in 1993, Where There Be Dragons has successfully managed hundreds of unique, small-group service learning programs in developing Asia, Latin America and Africa that inspire youth leadership and responsible global citizenship.

ProWorld, which operates as both a development agency and service learning program provider, has worked for more than 10 years with host communities in Peru, Belize, Mexico, India and Thailand.

Opportunities for Bridge Year participants will range from working on a stove replacement project in Peru and helping at a center for street children in Ghana to getting involved with a microfinance organization in India and serving with a youth organization that promotes democracy and human rights in Serbia.

Students will live with families in the community they are serving, and they will receive on-site language training.

The University will cover all core program expenses and will provide supplemental funding based on need for those who cannot afford the incidental costs, such as airfare, health insurance and personal items, that families will be asked to pay.

The Bridge Year Program will begin in August with a pre-departure orientation at Princeton.

More information, including application information, details about each location and answers to frequently asked questions, will be posted soon on the Admission Office website.

Princeton applicants for the class of 2013 are expected to learn of admissions decisions at the end of March. Applications for the Bridge Year Program will be due May 13, and students will be notified of placements by June 10. Students will be able to indicate preferred destinations on their applications, and those selected will be offered the chance to participate at a specific site.

Those with questions may contact Luria or Scott Leroy, associate director of the Princeton Bridge Year Program, at byp@princeton.edu.

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