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 target was to make international travel accessible to low-revenue youth across the nation, who are extremely passionate and wise but would under no circumstances have the chance to travel abroad otherwise.

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

Situated in Oakland California, Envision Academy makes use of an revolutionary project-primarily based understanding model to guarantee that its students — the majority of whom reside beneath the poverty line — are prepared for post-secondary education and beyond. (Most are 1st-generation immigrants and will be the 1st in their family members to go to college.)

Final month, they returned from their thrilling trip to the nation so I wanted to share some of what they did and discovered, so you can see what your assistance achieved. For most of the students, it was their 1st time in an additional nation and, needless to say, it had a massive influence on them.

Our group began in Bogotá, exactly where they climbed to the major 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 through 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 procedures 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 1st time out of the nation, “changed my perceptions and preconceived notions of Colombia a lot, and I saw that it is extra like house than I previously believed.” She also “really enjoyed this walking tour due to the fact I like art and I like graffiti due to the fact it is unconventional art and it tells the story of a individual.”

Afterward, the group headed to Cartagena. They got a ideal intro to the city on a walking tour by means of our companion, Context Travel, through which they discovered a lot about Cartagena’s history as a port for enslaved people today. This resonated with the students, who stressed how essential it was for extra people today to have this information. Kai, whose new passport got its 1st stamp on this trip, had the realization that “when people today assume about Latin America, they normally do not assume about people today 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 due to the fact 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, due to the fact they have been enslaved, flip it and make it a highly effective lesson. Make it your personal: My ancestors constructed this city.”

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

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

the FLYTE students in Colombia

Aliza, a sophomore and president of the student council who had under no circumstances left the US prior to, felt that this was the highlight of her trip due to the fact she was capable to “see the little ones and fully grasp 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 little ones she met “make the finest out of what they have. They’re grateful and humble and normally attempt to locate anything optimistic.”

Tayvion, a 14-year-old who also was traveling abroad for the 1st time, had a deep conversation with 1 of the Colombian little ones about police brutality. When Tayvion asked if they had guns, his new pal replied, “Yes, but they under no circumstances shoot.” Possessing drawn parallels and distinctions with his personal neighborhood, Tayvion shared his devastating realization: “It created me assume about how, for officers in the U.S., their 1st instinct is just to shoot.” (To me, that is a sad statement coming from a kid and just shows you up a great deal police violence is an every day truth for a lot of people today in this nation.)

the FLYTE students on a walking tour in Colombia

All through this complete journey, the group took aspect in day-to-day 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 under no circumstances even left California prior to this trip, mentioned that the greatest 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 discover about new people today.”

Waldo, who is a junior, shared that, “we ought to be open-minded about other cultures and people today ’cause we could locate some similarities in between us and them. We shouldn’t judge a people today 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 assume about their future and objectives. Yasmeen told us, “I have a lot of dreams. There are so a lot of rewards in the US, and I’m not going to waste my time. I ought to travel extra and discover about unique cultures.”

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In addition to the information that she gained, Veronica shared that her “goals are to support my neighborhood with any of the function that I do. I assume this trip is going to support me obtain that due to the fact I’ve realized how equivalent my neighborhood is with the neighborhood of Cartagena. We can use other cities from unique nations to support every single other with the challenges we are going by means of.”

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 unique cultures and tends to make me propose solidarity inside communities in Oakland.”

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

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

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 under no circumstances been on a plane prior to their trip to Colombia. Not only did they discover 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 arranging how they’re going to take action back house. One particular of their tips was to produce a mural, a great deal 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 planet and the energy they every single have to transform it for the much better.


And, so, our mission continues!

I want to thank you for assisting make this come about! It requires an complete network of passionate folks and firms 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. Being aware of 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 free of charge of charge.
  • Javier from MYGHT travel, who created the daunting method of booking flights for a group of 20+ a seamless and anxiety-free of charge expertise.
  • Context Travel, which worked with us to craft distinctive, immersive experiences (at a discount!) for our students.
  • Alex Rocha from Knowledge Actual Cartagena for opening up his neighborhood to us and supplying us with a deep connection to the remarkable people today of Barrio San Francisco.
  • Bluffworks, 1 of our newest corporate partners, which covered the expenses 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 through 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 amazing photographs and videos. She was also the mastermind behind FLYTE’s IG stories through the trip! We like how she was capable to document the students’ expertise in such an genuine, highly effective, and unintrusive way.
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Final, but undoubtedly 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 optimistic transform will ripple by means of their communities and the planet at massive. With them taking the lead, I know devoid of a doubt that our future is vibrant. Thank you all for producing such an immeasurable influence!

As the planet builds walls, we’re assisting tear them down and displaying a new generation that there is extra that brings us with each other than tears us apart.

If you want to discover extra about FLYTE and how you can support send extra students abroad, click right here for extra info.

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Book Your Flight
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Photo Credit: All photographs belong to Lia from Sensible Wanderlust who was there assisting document the trip!