Parents Guide to Kalu Yala
Studying abroad is one of the most rewarding experiences a student can have during their college years.
At Kalu Yala, we provide a community setting that not only prepares your son or daughter for a rewarding career, but also instills them with the skills, confidence, and compassion needed to address today's social and environmental issues on a local and international scale.
The Kalu Yala Institute is for students and entrepreneurial minded people who are passionate about finding solutions to social and environmental challenges.
Each program follows a project-based curriculum for ten weeks with academic instruction and hands-on work in multidisciplinary teams. Through lectures, workshops, individual and group projects, Kalu Yala enables students to test their passions in the real world. Unlike other education programs, we believe learning should be combined with doing.
- Program duration: We offer 3 semesters a year– Fall, Spring, and Summer. Each semester is 10 weeks.
- Program location: A lush rainforest valley in Tres Brazos, Panama– about 50 minutes from Panama City. Education and Public Health & Wellness students also live and work in the rural community of San Miguel.
- Program disciplines: Agriculture, Biology, Business & Entrepreneurship, Construction Arts, Culinary Arts, Design-Thinking, Education, Engineering, Media Arts, Political Science, Public Health and Wellness.
What Alumni Say
- 92% of alumni would recommend Kalu Yala to a friend. According to our alumni and 3rd-party review websites, we are one of the most highly ranked study abroad programs in the world.
- 98% positive reviews on GoOverseas.com, an online directory of study abroad programs.
- 94% of alumni have stated their experience at Kalu Yala positively contributed to their career growth, citing beneficial application for medical school applications, developing soft skills needed for community development, transformative exposure to new academic fields, among other beneficial impacts.
- Eligible for academic credit at most universities
- Engaging interaction with faculty and staff in a welcoming living/learning environment
- Hands-on application of knowledge and theories
- Culturally immersive with opportunities for language-learning (Spanish), homestays, and teaching / volunteer work.
- Proven to be desirable experience for graduate and medical school applicants.
- Jumpstarts an international network of ambitious professionals and visionaries
- Improved leadership, public speaking, and communication skills
- Enhanced cultural awareness and foreign language skills (Spanish)
- Fosters entrepreneurial skills and qualities, particularly working in restricted environments and/or with limited resources
How much does this study abroad program cost?
One semester at Kalu Yala costs a total of $7495, which covers housing and full meal plan. If you've done your research, you know this is vastly more affordable than most study abroad programs. This is because we want to keep this experience affordable for all– not just the select few that can typically participate in study abroad programs. After all, sustainability is all about keeping things economically sustainable, too.
This table displays a selection of comparable study abroad and internship programs with similar curricula, duration, and geographical settings. On a tuition-per-week basis, Kalu Yala is consistently the most affordable program.
Is this experience eligible for academic credit?
Absolutely! Like most study abroad programs, it's up to your student to get approval for their academic credits from their university. We've been approved by dozens of reputable universities, and over 50% of Kalu Yala students who applied for college credit were approved.
We do everything we can to help our students receive academic credit for their time at Kalu Yala. For more information, read these tips for receiving college credit at Kalu Yala (don't worry, we've emailed your student this!)
How can you ensure my child's safety?
Besides having a professionally trained Registered Nurse on campus at all times, Kalu Yala also has a detailed Emergency Evacuation plan, including emergency departure by helicopter when necessary (in over 7 years and 21 semesters, we have only needed to employ this method once.) Every semester, we run an emergency drill with staff and students to ensure procedures are up to date.
Panama is recognized for its world class healthcare and qualified medical professionals. Some of Latin America's top hospitals are located right in Panama City, including the John Hopkins-affiliated Hospital Punta Pacifica.
Who will be leading my child in their studies?
Our instructors hold Master's degrees or PH.d's, many are Wilderness First Responders, some are Peace Corps alumni, while others have built and sold their own small businesses, but all have found a way to forge careers outside of the classroom as well as being passionate teachers. Please feel free to ask for your child's instructor bio by writing firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are the housing options and meal plan?
Housing and a full meal plan (3 meals a day, 7 days a week) is covered in your student's tuition.
Students live in a rustic and comfortable jungle camp setting, sleeping in their choice of an air mattress bed or hammock.
Our farm-to-table kitchen churns out 3 healthy, delicious meals a day, using fresh ingredients either grown on our farm or from local surrounding neighbors. Meals are most often plant-based, though occasional meat dishes are available. Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free meals are all always available. If your son or daughter has allergies or other dietary requirements, we are happy to accommodate.
How much spending money will my child need outside of the program?
This depends on how often your student plans on traveling during his time in Panama. While we cover all of your students' needs on campus, including full meal plan, he or she may choose to travel during the weekends or during Inspiration Week.
Panama is a relatively inexpensive country, particularly when compared to the U.S, Canada, and many parts of Europe. Still, accommodations and travel range from luxurious to rustic, and everything in between.
In general, we recommend your student arrive with an additional $500-1000 for their time in Panama. This will cover the costs they will generally incur while traveling, eating out, and staying at hotels or hostels. If your student plans to partake in special activities (example: scuba diving lessons) they may wish to bring more.
Is Panama a safe country?
Panama is considered one of the safest countries in Latin America. In over 7 years and 21 semesters, we have never had a student be the victim of a violent crime, even during their weekend or Inspiration Week travels. The worst that has happened is the occasional pickpocketing. Still, we hold formal discussions on safety and crime avoidance during Student Orientation, and continue to promote safety, travel tips, and common-sense advice throughout the semester.
What travel and/or health documents will my child need?
Panama only requires a passport to enter, with most countries having 6 month travel visas automatically granted when airfare is purchased. There are no required vaccinations, though we recommend up-to-date shots for tetanus, typhoid and Hepatitis A. Malaria medication and yellow fever vaccinations are optional, but cases in our region are very rare and most people forgo them.
How can I stay connected with my child while they are abroad?
Thanks to our powerful solar grids and privately funded Internet tower, we have relatively high-speed Internet and WIFI in the jungle. Your student will have access to WIFI during their time on campus, as well as their weekends off and during Inspiration Week.
Did we miss something? Ask us directly at email@example.com
Join Us for Family Appreciation Day!
We love to see our students' families visit, see our students' projects first-hand, and join the conversation about sustainability. Every semester, we hold Family Appreciation Day the day before Inspiration Week– giving you and your student the chance to travel together in Panama's sunny, tropical paradise.
Upcoming Family Appreciation Days:
- Spring 2018: February 23, 2017
- Summer 2018: June 13, 2017
- Fall 2018: October 12, 2017
Have questions about Kalu Yala? Ask us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, or schedule a call with our Admissions Director Matthew Stice.