Frequently Asked Questions - Gap Year Program | The Center Seville

FAQ

What is our motivation

The Center has been designed to empower motivated students to address the growing challenges and complexity of the modern world.

We are living at a critical juncture. Our socities are moving faster and are more interconnected than ever before and our capacity to effect change — both good & bad —increases daily. Today more than ever we require capable leaders who are informed by broad experiences and guided by positive intentions.

Our goal is to bring together a select cohort of highly motivated and engaged students and provide them with the experiences and networks necessary for them to realize their fullest potential. We believe when these individuals are exposed to broad experiences, engage in self-directed learning, and are inspired by peers they will develop the mentality and tools required for inspired leadership.

Is tuition really free

Yes, our goal is to make The Center entirely tuition free.

We want to ensure enrollment is merit based and open to the most deserving students regardless of financial barriers. Also, by offering free tuition we trust students will embody the virtue of ‘paying it forward’ and will become patrons of citizenship who will extend and multiply these acts of generosity themselves.

Although there will be no direct financial costs to students their acceptance will have conditions:

-Students must maintain a strong work ethic and a grade average of 75%.

-Students are expected to contribute 4 hrs/week to the maintenance of The Center. This can take the form of cooking, assisting on the farm, landscaping, building, or cleaning. This helps to maintain low operational costs and contributes to a sense of community and care.

-Throughout the year, students are challenged to fundraise 10% (~$2,500) of the tuition costs of a future student. Once the incoming class has been selected, these two students will be put in contact and the older student will help prepare and guide the incoming student. This practice is designed for students to tangibly realize the value of ‘paying it forward’.

Although local travel is included as part of the curriculum, students are expected to fund their personal travel during the mid-semester breaks. However, The Center will offer at-cost group tours and will also help students arrange lower cost travel options (hiking the Camino de Santiago, bicycle tours, working holidays, etc) during these periods.

Why is it located in Spain

Few places can rival Spain's history or its influence on the linguistic and cultural map of our world. 

Founded by the Phoenicians, Seville's history extends over 2,200 years. The city first flourished during the Roman period and was additionally enriched from the patronage of former residents turned emperor's;  Trajan & Hadrian. Following the collapse of Rome,  Moorish Andalusia would experience a prolonged golden age in art, culture, and learning that marked a sharp counterpoint to the Dark Ages that enveloped the rest of Europe. However, it was in 1492 that Seville would most significantly alter the course of world history when Christopher Columbus set sail from here and discovered the New World. This period brought a tremendous amount of wealth to Seville and enabled it to build the world's third largest cathedral and Europe's largest historic city center. 

Today Spanish language acquisition and cultural understanding are especially important and the Andalusians are excellent ambassadors being renowned for their hospitality and sociability. Furthermore, this region is blessed with an ideal climate and is a gateway to the rest of Europe.

How will we fund this project

We believe in the power of people and that collectively we are capable of the incredible.

We also believe education should ≠ debt and value the concept—and the dynamic created—when tuition is given as a gift. 

Although ambitious we believe it is possible to fund this entire project through the contributions of our Founders and granting bodies. 

Additionally, our goal is to ensure The Center increases financial independence each year and we aim to achieve 50% financial independence within the first  fifteen years.

We will augment costs through:
-Exporting products from our farm
-Selling excess sustainable electricity to the national grid
-Hosting workshops, conferences, and events
-Accepting donations from alumni 

Why is enrollment limited to 120 students

Our greatest resource is our community and our goal is to foster an environment where peer-to-peer & peer-to-facilitator learning can best flourish. Dunbar's Number (~150), reminds us that bigger is not always better and that we are limited in the number of meaningful relationships we can maintain. To accommodate a space most conducive for community cohesion we will maintain a resident population of under 150 (students + staff).

How do you select students

The Center is intended for mature, high achieving, and self-motivated students. Our application process involves an essay based questionnaire, a curriculum vitae, and letters of reference. Final selection is achieved through online interviews.

How is the curriculum scheduled

Our eight month program runs from early September - late April and is divided into two semesters with the semesters separated by a three week break in December. Each semester accommodates a ten day travel period and The Center will offer at-cost group tours during these periods; however, students are also encouraged to use these opportunities to engage in self-directed travel.

During the weekday our academic courses generally run from 0900-1600h and after class students are expected to provide one hour of community service towards The Center (cooking, assisting on the farm, landscaping, building, or cleaning). Evenings provide opportunities for engagement with our numerous onsite facilities and for socialization and leisure.

Weekends are opportunities for local travel, for community engagement, and for hosting workshops and guest speakers. Generally The Center will organize group travel twice a month and will provide both a guest speaker and a workshop once a month. Our weekend offerings are voluntary, which allows students to further direct their own learning. 

What is the Local Leadership Summer Program

The Center is committed to integrating and enriching the local community and one of its larger initiatives will be to provide a three week at-cost leadership program to empower local youth leaders.

The Local Leadership Summer Program (LLSP) is designed to unite and cultivate local student leaders entering their senior year of high-school and its curriculum will be inspired by our Global Gap Year Enrichment Program (GGYEP). Students and staff will reside on site and the program will provide three meals a day. Similar to the GGYEP the LLSP will be celebrated for its ability to connect and enable local leaders through its high quality programming. Furthermore, TCS will strive to develop financial partnerships with local businesses to create a scholarship fund for all students enrolled in the LLSP.

Why is it called The Center

The Center implies a 'learning center', which differentiates itself from a 'school'; a word that sometimes holds negative connotations associated with rote memorization, desk learning and vocational training. Conversely, The Center promotes active learning and the pursuit of passions and talents via immersive self-directed experiential learning.

Symbolically, the idea of a center reminds us to remain centered ourselves and to cultivate our fullest potential.

Visually, our logo was inspired by the Moorish influenced ceramic tiles iconic to the south of Spain. These elegant tiles are a reminder of the Golden Age of Andalusia; a period cherished for its cultural integration and its corresponding profusion of the arts & sciences.

How are the residences arranged

Students will live in mixed homes with large common spaces for socialization and private bedrooms. 

Staff will also live on site in private residences.

How will meals be served

Our meals are primarily built around our farm and its abundant Mediterranean environment. This lends a great variety to our diet and allows us to explore the food cultures of Spain, France, Italy, Greece, The Levant, and North Africa. However, we will also use food to explore more remote regions of the world. Our learning kitchen is designed to connect students to nutritious food and to develop an appreciation of the culinary arts. Guided by staff, students take turns preparing group meals that are served in our community dining area.

Who are the teachers

Although hiring instructors is a few years away this is a frequent question and is worthy of elaboration.

To best challenge our students our acclaimed staff will be globally representative, engaging, and empowering.

Perhaps most importantly our teachers are meant to inspire students learning by embodying a lifelong commitment to learning themselves. To facilitate the empowerment of students and our commitment to self-directed learning teachers are not simply ‘givers of information’, but instead act as guides and provoke students personal learning. Each student will select a teacher who will then serve to mentor them in their learning.

We aspire to create an environment where students are exposed to a wide range of ideas and perspectives and we expect our teachers to physically embody this.

Our international and multigenerational mosaic of teachers will diversity The Center and will enrich students perspectives ensuring they are exposed to varied ways of thinking.

We anticipate a staff of about 10 teachers and thus a teaching ratio of ~1:12.

When will The Center open

We hope to open our doors in September 2021; however, this is contingent on funding :)

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