the FLYTE students on a field trip in Colombia standing in front of a yellow church


Posted: eight/26/2019 | August 26th, 2019

When I began my nonprofit Foundation for Finding out and Youth Travel Education (FLYTE), my aim was to make international travel accessible to low-revenue youth across the nation, who are extremely passionate and wise but would by no means have the chance to travel abroad otherwise.

Earlier this year, we raised $15,000 to send a group of youngsters from Envision Academy to Colombia.

Situated in Oakland California, Envision Academy utilizes an revolutionary project-primarily based mastering model to make sure that its students — the majority of whom reside beneath the poverty line — are prepared for post-secondary education and beyond. (Most are initially-generation immigrants and will be the initially in their loved ones to go to college.)

Final month, they returned from their fascinating trip to the nation so I wanted to share some of what they did and discovered, so you can see what your help achieved. For most of the students, it was their initially time in an additional nation and, needless to say, it had a huge influence on them.

Our group began in Bogotá, exactly where they climbed to the top rated of Cerro de Monserrate and explored Plaza Bolívar, exactly where Jeremy, the teacher top the trip, gave a cross-curricular lecture about Simon Bolívar, Colombia’s history in the course of the drug cartel years, and the architecture about them. They also went on a street art tour led by two regional artists, on which they discovered all about art methods and the political climate that prompted a lot of of the pieces that they saw.

the FLYTE students enjoying a street art tour in Colombia

The students straight away began seeing commonalities in between Oakland and Colombia. Darrilyn, a fifteen year old sophomore, remarked that this trip, her initially time out of the nation, “changed my perceptions and preconceived notions of Colombia a lot, and I saw that it is additional like property than I previously believed.” She also “really enjoyed this walking tour since I like art and I like graffiti since it is unconventional art and it tells the story of a particular person.”

Afterward, the group headed to Cartagena. They got a fantastic intro to the city on a walking tour via our companion, Context Travel, in the course of which they discovered a lot about Cartagena’s history as a port for enslaved persons. This resonated with the students, who stressed how vital it was for additional persons to have this information. Kai, whose new passport got its initially stamp on this trip, had the realization that “when persons believe about Latin America, they normally do not believe about persons of African descent.”

the FLYTE students on a tour around Cartagena with Context Tours

Myani, who’s 17 and just graduated from Envision Academy, was equally moved: “It’s inspiring in a way since even even though our ancestors have been enslaved, they created the city what it is. You can see their worth to the neighborhood. Even even though there’s an oppressive connotation, since they have been enslaved, flip it and make it a potent lesson. Make it your personal: My ancestors constructed this city.”

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On top rated of all this, the students immersed themselves in Colombian cuisine by taking a street meals tour with Cartagena Connections. They attempted every little thing from ajiaco and arepas to bandeja paisa, mango biche, and a bubble gum soda.

1 of the highlights of the trip was going to Cartagena’s Barrio San Francisco with Alex Rocha from Knowledge Genuine Cartagena, whose tours are made to make deeper connections with the marginalized communities of Colombia. (Alex’s firm also operates as a social enterprise, and so the proceeds fund an just after-college system for the regional neighborhood.) Our students had an chance to connect with some of these youth via activities like drawing, dancing, and soccer, as effectively as via sincere conversations about their shared experiences.

the FLYTE students in Colombia

Aliza, a sophomore and president of the student council who had by no means left the US just before, felt that this was the highlight of her trip since she was capable to “see the youngsters and recognize their atmosphere and how they reside every single day.” Jany, who is seventeen and served as the de-facto translator for our Spanish-speaking parents, reflected on how the youngsters she met “make the very best out of what they have. They’re grateful and humble and constantly attempt to obtain some thing constructive.”

Tayvion, a 14-year-old who also was traveling abroad for the initially time, had a deep conversation with 1 of the Colombian youngsters about police brutality. When Tayvion asked if they had guns, his new buddy replied, “Yes, but they by no means shoot.” Getting drawn parallels and distinctions with his personal neighborhood, Tayvion shared his devastating realization: “It created me believe about how, for officers in the U.S., their initially instinct is just to shoot.” (To me, that is a sad statement coming from a kid and just shows you up considerably police violence is an each day truth for a lot of persons in this nation.)

the FLYTE students on a walking tour in Colombia

All through this complete journey, the group took element in everyday reflections. They shared their experiences, discovered from 1 an additional, and bonded more than how they’d changed all through the trip.

Joshua, a sophomore who had by no means even left California just before this trip, stated that the largest lessons he’d discovered have been: “Do not take the items you have for granted. Do not be afraid to attempt new items. Ultimately, do not be scared to study about new persons.”

Waldo, who is a junior, shared that, “we ought to be open-minded about other cultures and persons ’cause we could obtain some similarities in between us and them. We shouldn’t judge a persons or culture primarily based on their previous alone.”

the FLYTE students on a walking tour in Colombia

These new experiences not only shifted their mindset, but they also created the students believe about their future and targets. Yasmeen told us, “I have a lot of dreams. There are so a lot of added benefits in the US, and I’m not going to waste my time. I ought to travel additional and study about distinct cultures.”

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In addition to the information that she gained, Veronica shared that her “goals are to assist my neighborhood with any of the function that I do. I believe this trip is going to assist me accomplish that since I’ve realized how equivalent my neighborhood is with the neighborhood of Cartagena. We can use other cities from distinct nations to assist every single other with the difficulties we are going via.”

Similarly, Ronald, a student who was excited to relay his experiences with his stepmom (who’s from Colombia), shared that “this trip created me open-minded to distinct cultures and tends to make me propose solidarity inside communities in Oakland.”

And, in a quote I specially enjoy, Darrilyn stated of her time in Colombia: “My hopes and dreams are to be a political analyst and to travel the globe. This trip showed me there is no worry to travel.”

This is why FLYTE exists: to develop moments and lessons like this for students so they can see the globe outdoors their borders and dream huge.

the FLYTE students at the airport leaving for Colombia

The experiences these students had in Colombia left an indelible mark on them. Most of them had by no means been on a plane just before their trip to Colombia. Not only did they study about the culture and history of an additional nation but they also found how a neighborhood can rise up in occasions of adversity.

On the final days of their trip, the students began preparing how they’re going to take action back property. 1 of their concepts was to develop a mural, considerably like the ones they saw in Colombia, to educate other people about how Oakland continues to overcome its struggles.

Due to the fact of this trip, these youth now have a larger understanding of the globe and the energy they every single have to adjust it for the greater.

***

And, so, our mission continues!

I want to thank you for assisting make this come about! It requires an complete network of passionate men and women and corporations to run 1 of these trips, and we wanted to celebrate some of our partners who created this trip such an unforgettable expertise for our students:

  • Planet Nomads, which donated all of our travel insurance coverage. Recognizing that they had us covered for any unforeseen situations, like lost luggage, gave us such peace of thoughts.
  • Selian Hostel in Cartegena for supplying tours and breakfast for the students totally free of charge.
  • Javier from MYGHT travel, who created the daunting course of action of booking flights for a group of 20+ a seamless and anxiety-totally free expertise.
  • Context Travel, which worked with us to craft distinctive, immersive experiences (at a discount!) for our students.
  • Alex Rocha from Knowledge Genuine Cartagena for opening up his neighborhood to us and supplying us with a deep connection to the remarkable persons of Barrio San Francisco.
  • Bluffworks, 1 of our newest corporate partners, which covered the charges of 3 students to take this journey of a lifetime.
  • Allyson and the group from wikiHow, who highlighted us on their platform and sponsored 1 student on this trip.
  • The International TEFL Academy, for donating 50% of the proceeds from its Teach Abroad Film Festival to FLYTE.
  • Lo &amp Sons, for matching donations in the course of our wildly thriving #GivingTuesday campaign and sharing our story with their audience.
  • Lia from Sensible Wanderlust, who paid her personal way to join the trip and captured so a lot of remarkable pictures and videos. She was also the mastermind behind FLYTE’s IG stories in the course of the trip! We enjoy how she was capable to document the students’ expertise in such an genuine, potent, and unintrusive way.
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Final, but definitely not least, a lot of thanks to the thousands of you that donated to FLYTE. Your generosity more than the years has sent 70 students on life-altering journeys abroad. The influence of these trips extends beyond just these youth. Due to the fact of you, the wave of constructive adjust will ripple via their communities and the globe at massive. With them taking the lead, I know without the need of a doubt that our future is vibrant. Thank you all for creating such an immeasurable influence!

As the globe builds walls, we’re assisting tear them down and displaying a new generation that there is additional that brings us collectively than tears us apart.

If you want to study additional about FLYTE and how you can assist send additional students abroad, click right here for additional facts.

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Photo Credit: All pictures belong to Lia from Sensible Wanderlust who was there assisting document the trip!

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