Posted: 2/14/2019 | February 14th, 2019
As travelers, we constantly meet people from around the world and experience cultures and values different than our own. I think that is why we travelers tend to (generally) be more open-minded. We want to see the differences in the world.
Traveling gives us a broader perspective and understanding of life, the world, the people in it, and, often most importantly, ourselves.
Three years ago I started FLYTE, the Foundation for Learning and Youth Travel Education, because I wanted to bring the beauty of travel to young people who don’t have the opportunity to travel and realize just how much the world has to offer.
Kids who not are only limited by their geography but by their community’s world view.
FLYTE has already sent four groups of students abroad. That’s over 50 kids who have experienced the world outside their bubble. Fifty kids who now have a passport. 50 kids who got to put what they learned in the classroom to good use!
Our returning students always tell us how they have a new sense of appreciation for their community, school, and the possibility out there in the world. They’re inspired to think bigger and do more.
Maribel, who traveled with FLYTE in 2017 to Ecuador, was so motivated by her experiences that she wants to keep volunteering. As she put it, “volunteering abroad was one of the most formative experiences of my life…After Ecuador, I’ve chosen to apply to colleges that allow me to help people wherever and whenever I can.”
Our last group of students came from a small, rural community in Victor, Montana. Traveling to Guatemala put immigration in a new perspective for them. Julia shared that her journey “makes me realize why people want to come to the U.S. and how lucky I am.”
Tija who FLYTE sent to Cuba shared how grateful she was to FLYTE’s donors who gave her the opportunity “to have this amazing experience…to share with my family, classmates, and people in my community.” Likewise, Sam expressed his gratitude for being able to travel, because during his time in Guatemala, he “became closer to with [his] friends and closer with the rest of the world.”
These journeys have ripple effects beyond just our students. Erica, the teacher who led our first trip, told us that one of the mothers who was initially hesitant to send her son was so moved by how much it positively impacted him that she applied for her own passport and wanted to chaperone the school’s next trip.
Now, as we start the new year, it’s time to announce our next partner school:
Envision Academy located in downtown Oakland, in Northern California:
While the thought of this part of the country may conjure up images of Silicon Valley, lucrative tech start-ups, and all things Google, the reality is that Oakland, particularly the inner city, was hit hard during the crack epidemic and the city still feels the effects of its past to this day. Oakland has been repeatedly named one of the most violent cities in the country and the poverty level is high in this area.
70% of the students that attend Envision Academy receive free or reduced-price lunch, many of them are first-generation immigrants, and will be the first in their family to go to college. We’re so excited to partner with this school because of their commitment to students’ long-term success and how much they prioritize family involvement.
Families are a core part of the school culture and actively participate in their children’s education. Many of these families are often single-parent, matriarchal households, and despite the challenges they face, they are incredibly invested in their children’s success, and work hard to make ends meet. However, opportunities for these students to travel abroad or even back to their native country to visit their family are really limited.
We’re going to change that by sending them to Colombia at the end of June!
Jeremy, the teacher leading this trip, is an inspiring advocate for his students and created a comprehensive curriculum that will make his classroom come alive once the students step off the plane. He is a digital media arts teacher — and through the coursework that will be integrated into the trip, the students will learn how to use photography, film, and art to tell their stories.
These students are bright and promising but coming from a developing community like Oakland is not a point of pride for a lot of them. Oakland’s still bear scars from the violence of drug trade. Students still live in a society where crime, prison and police brutality are constant threats. They see the culture and scars of their community negatively and Jeremy wants to expand their worldview by showing them communities in Colombia that have overcome similar struggles.
As part of their itinerary, they’ll visit the Gold Museum and Bolívar Plaza in Bogotá, then head to Cartagena, where they’ll explore the Spanish Inquisition Museum and learn about Afro-Caribbean street art in Getsemani, then take a tour of Palenque. Another vital part of their trip will be the service component, during which they’ll work with a local nonprofit organization to learn what it’s like to live in these communities.
In his application, Jeremy wrote that at Envision Academy, “[we] want our students to be curious, collaborative, critical thinkers who are inspired agents of change. A cultural analysis is a perfect way to empower them to do so. All of our instruction is around project-based learning with real-world connections. By stepping out of their comfort zones, our students can engage in collaborative inquiry and analysis in order to see their community through a new lens.”
For most of these students, it’s their first time abroad and I think Myani really exemplified why they all want to be a part of this: “I want to be involved in this program because I feel my financial situation holds me back from my dreams. I’ve always wanted to travel the world, since a little girl. But my family’s financial situation has held me back.”
In times like these, where disconnection and fear permeate our culture, I’m incredibly hopeful, because Tija, Julia, Sam, Maribel, Myani, and their classmates are the leaders that will shape our future. They will one day be policymakers and business owners, who, with the compassion, empathy, and perspective that comes from travel, will make decisions that benefit all, not just a select few.
Together, we as a travel community can create these waves of change in our world.
We’d love for you to join this movement and help us impact these kids!
Here are two ways you can take action.
(1) Make a tax-deductible donation.
Our goal is to raise $35,000 to fully fund the costs of the trip (flights, accommodations, transport, passports etc.) for 18 students and four chaperones. After our #GivingTuesday campaign last November, we’re over halfway there!
Every contribution in any amount will make a huge difference. Out of the thousands of donations that have funded our previous trips, the majority of them were under $25. Every dollar helps us get closer to sending these students on a life-changing trip.
(2) Join our team of FLYTE Advocates.
We recently launched this Facebook group of travel influencers and enthusiasts who want to use their platforms to help spread the word about FLYTE.
Our FLYTE students are incredible and inspiring, and this is your chance to inspire the next generation of changemakers by connecting them to the world.
Help us change the world.
– Nomadic Matt
P.S. – Remember your donation is tax deductible if you’re in the states! Here is the donation link again!