Posted: 12/20/2016 | December 20th, 2016
“Travel itself is very scarce for me, as I’ve never even commuted outside of the northeastern coast of the United States. Everything from the volunteer work to the small details — such as the different smells of the streets and different tastes of the food — will be exhilarating and memorable.” —Gabriella, student at Excelsior Academy traveling to Ecuador this summer
Travel has the power to change lives for the better. It provides an education one can never receive solely within the walls of a classroom. It teaches you about the world and yourself.
Last year, I started The Foundation for Learning and Youth Travel Education (FLYTE) because I want to give those who aren’t privileged or lucky enough to travel the chance to do so. I wanted to create something that takes kids like Gabriella and shows them that, though it’s a big world out there, we’re all really the same. I wanted to share the positive impact of travel with those less likely to experience it.
The more I travel, the more I realize how alike we all are. Sure, there are cultural differences, but the human experience is a shared one: we all laugh, cry, wish the best for our friends and family, worry about our health, and want to live with meaning. We all complain about the long commute and smile at the beautiful sunset.
As Maya Angelou said, “Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”
You and I know this to be true. People like us know how important it is to have a global perspective. With the world being more interconnected than ever, understanding it has never been more critical – not only to succeed as a person but also in our interconnected economy.
Yet there are kids who can’t see beyond their own town, who have never had a chance to meet someone from another country or travel somewhere distant. They live in depressed communities where the world is just some big “other.”
FLYTE was born so that we could help those who don’t have the resources to do so — and with your help and generosity, we’ve funded two trips already! Because of us, 25 students have seen beyond their borders, volunteered in other countries, interacted with different cultures, and now have a passport (so they can keep seeing more). Students like Kaleb from Atlanta:
“Traveling abroad exposed me to different cultures and prepared me for the diverse community at college. Because of this trip, I’ve decided I’m going to study abroad in college.” —Kaleb, BEST Academy student and FLYTE Crew participant, spring 2016
Today, I couldn’t be more excited to announce that FLYTE has partnered with Excelsior Academy in Newburgh, New York, to send them to Quito, Ecuador, this summer!
Newburgh, once a thriving manufacturing center on the Hudson River, has faced deindustrialization and failed urban renewal attempts that have left the town struggling both financially and socially. Complicating the matter, the Newburgh school district is located in what the FBI has repeatedly named one of the ten most dangerous cities per capita in the United States.
With that in mind, we’re going send 15 Excelsior Academy students to volunteer for ten days in Quito, Ecuador. The students will volunteer at Casa Victoria, a grassroots community betterment program located in a struggling section of Quito, and work with local students helping in an after school program. Not only will they get to experience another culture, country, and continent, but they will also give back while there.
As Excelsior teacher Christine McCartney says, “At Excelsior Academy, we strive to create global citizens who recognize their power to enact change at both the local and global level.”
Here are the students talking about why this is so important to them — and what this trip means to them:
Given today’s climate, I think it is more important than ever to promote global awareness and education, and we’re proud and excited to be doing that with our next FLYTE students from Excelsior!
Thanks to you, FLYTE raised over $88,000 last year to fund two classroom trips abroad – one class from Atlanta went to Mexico and another group from D.C. went to Cuba. Because of those and our 2017 summer trip, 43 students will now have passports, thanks to you!
Today, I’m asking again for your help to send another group of kids overseas. Each trip costs $35,000 to run. I personally donated $15,000 to FLYTE this year and will make another large contribution in the coming year, but the more money we raise, the more students we can affect. We’re part of the Google Giving network now, are applying for grants, and pitching FLYTE to bigger organizations.
But this community is the lifeblood of FLYTE…and without you, we’ll never make this organization fly (get it?! hahaha!).
But, seriously, not only does your donation help fund this ten-day trip, but its impact will continue to ripple outward, into the city of Newburgh, as the students come back and begin to work on community projects in their own town.
Donations can be made by clicking here or using the widget below.
To add some perspective: $100 covers a student’s passport fees, $350 covers accommodation for one of the students, and $2,500 funds an entire student’s trip!! But no matter the size of your donation, every little bit helps us get these kids closer to Ecuador! Moreover, some donation levels get some awesome swag:
NOTE: We are a 501(c)3 charity so your donations are tax exempt. (US residents only)
If you are thinking about giving to an organization this holiday season, please consider donating to help us take our next student explorers to Ecuador!
Every donation makes a difference, no matter how big or small.
Together we can continue to give back and spread the travel love!
Thank you again for supporting this amazing cause. It means the world to these kids, their parents, and their teachers.
Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner. It’s my favorite search engine because it searches websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- SafetyWing (best for everyone)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
- Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)
Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.