FLYTE Update: Here’s What Occurred to the Students We Sent to Colombia


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 started my nonprofit Foundation for Studying and Youth Travel Education (FLYTE), my objective was to make international travel accessible to low-income youth across the nation, who are particularly passionate and clever but would never ever ever have the likelihood to travel abroad otherwise.

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

Positioned in Oakland California, Envision Academy utilizes an revolutionary project-mostly primarily based mastering model to assure that its students — the majority of whom reside beneath the poverty line — are ready for post-secondary education and beyond. (Most are initial-generation immigrants and will be the initial 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 found, so you can see what your enable accomplished. For most of the students, it was their initial time in but yet another nation and, needless to say, it had a enormous influence on them.

Our group started in Bogotá, precisely exactly where they climbed to the prime of Cerro de Monserrate and explored Plaza Bolívar, precisely exactly where Jeremy, the teacher significant the trip, gave a cross-curricular lecture about Simon Bolívar, Colombia’s history all 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 found all about art approaches 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 promptly started seeing commonalities amongst Oakland and Colombia. Darrilyn, a fifteen year old sophomore, remarked that this trip, her initial time out of the nation, “changed my perceptions and preconceived notions of Colombia a lot, and I saw that it is a lot far more like residence than I previously believed.” She also “really enjoyed this walking tour merely for the reason that I like art and I like graffiti merely for the reason that it is unconventional art and it tells the story of a person.”

Afterward, the group headed to Cartagena. They got a excellent intro to the city on a walking tour by implies of our companion, Context Travel, all through which they found a lot about Cartagena’s history as a port for enslaved males and girls. This resonated with the students, who stressed how essential it was for a lot far more males and girls to have this data. Kai, whose new passport got its initial stamp on this trip, had the realization that “when males and girls think about Latin America, they typically do not think about males and girls 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 merely for the reason that even even although our ancestors have been enslaved, they produced the city what it is. You can see their worth to the neighborhood. Even even although there’s an oppressive connotation, merely for the reason that they have been enslaved, flip it and make it a productive lesson. Make it your individual: My ancestors constructed this city.”

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

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1 of the highlights of the trip was going to Cartagena’s Barrio San Francisco with Alex Rocha from Knowledge Actual Cartagena, whose tours are created to make deeper connections with the marginalized communities of Colombia. (Alex’s organization also operates as a social enterprise, and so the proceeds fund an straight away just after-college method for the regional neighborhood.) Our students had an likelihood to connect with some of these youth by implies of activities like drawing, dancing, and soccer, as properly as by implies of truthful conversations about their shared experiences.

the FLYTE students in Colombia

Aliza, a sophomore and president of the student council who had never ever ever left the US ahead of, felt that this was the highlight of her trip merely for the reason that she was in a position to “see the youngsters and comprehend their atmosphere and how they reside each and every 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 best out of what they have. They’re grateful and humble and typically try to find out 1 issue excellent.”

Tayvion, a 14-year-old who also was traveling abroad for the initial time, had a deep conversation with a single of the Colombian youngsters about police brutality. When Tayvion asked if they had guns, his new buddy replied, “Yes, but they never ever ever shoot.” Possessing drawn parallels and distinctions with his individual neighborhood, Tayvion shared his devastating realization: “It produced me think about how, for officers in the U.S., their initial instinct is just to shoot.” (To me, that is a sad statement coming from a kid and just shows you up a good deal police violence is an each and every day reality for a lot of males and girls in this nation.)

the FLYTE students on a walking tour in Colombia

All by means of this complete journey, the group took element in each and every day reflections. They shared their experiences, found from a single but yet another, and bonded far more than how they’d changed all by means of the trip.

Joshua, a sophomore who had never ever ever even left California ahead of this trip, stated that the most important lessons he’d found have been: “Do not take the things you have for granted. Do not be afraid to try new things. Lastly, do not be scared to locate out about new males and girls.”

Waldo, who is a junior, shared that, “we must truly be open-minded about other cultures and males and girls ’cause we may perhaps nicely find out some similarities amongst us and them. We shouldn’t judge a males and girls or culture mostly primarily based on their prior alone.”

the FLYTE students on a walking tour in Colombia

These new experiences not only shifted their mindset, but they also produced the students think about their future and targets. Yasmeen told us, “I have a lot of dreams. There are so a lot of added rewards in the US, and I’m not going to waste my time. I must truly travel a lot far more and locate out about distinct cultures.”

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In addition to the data that she gained, Veronica shared that her “goals are to allow my neighborhood with any of the execute that I do. I think this trip is going to allow me attain that merely for the reason that I’ve realized how comparable my neighborhood is with the neighborhood of Cartagena. We can use other cities from distinct nations to allow each single other with the challenges we are going by implies of.”

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

And, in a quote I specifically appreciate, Darrilyn stated 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 be concerned to travel.”

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

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 never ever ever been on a plane ahead of their trip to Colombia. Not only did they locate out about the culture and history of but yet another nation but they also located how a neighborhood can rise up in occasions of adversity.

On the final days of their trip, the students started preparing how they’re going to take action back residence. 1 of their suggestions was to create a mural, a good deal like the ones they saw in Colombia, to educate other persons about how Oakland continues to overcome its struggles.

Basically for the reason that of this trip, these youth now have a bigger understanding of the planet and the power they each single have to transform it for the a great deal much better.


And, so, our mission continues!

I want to thank you for assisting make this take place! It needs an complete network of passionate males and girls and corporations to run a single of these trips, and we wanted to celebrate some of our partners who produced this trip such an unforgettable sensible practical experience for our students:

  • Globe Nomads, which donated all of our travel insurance coverage coverage. Figuring out that they had us covered for any unforeseen circumstances, like lost luggage, gave us such peace of thoughts.
  • Selian Hostel in Cartegena for delivering tours and breakfast for the students no expense of charge.
  • Javier from MYGHT travel, who produced the daunting method of booking flights for a group of 20+ a seamless and strain-no expense sensible practical experience.
  • Context Travel, which worked with us to craft 1 of a type, immersive experiences (at a discount!) for our students.
  • Alex Rocha from Knowledge Actual Cartagena for opening up his neighborhood to us and delivering us with a deep connection to the amazing males and girls of Barrio San Francisco.
  • Bluffworks, a single of our newest corporate partners, which covered the charges of three students to take this journey of a lifetime.
  • Allyson and the group from wikiHow, who highlighted us on their platform and sponsored a single 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 all through our wildly lucrative #GivingTuesday campaign and sharing our story with their audience.
  • Lia from Sensible Wanderlust, who paid her individual way to join the trip and captured so a lot of outstanding photographs and videos. She was also the mastermind behind FLYTE’s IG stories all through the trip! We appreciate how she was in a position to document the students’ sensible practical experience in such an genuine, productive, 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 far more than the years has sent 70 students on life-altering journeys abroad. The influence of these trips extends beyond just these youth. Basically for the reason that of you, the wave of excellent transform will ripple by implies of their communities and the planet at important. With them taking the lead, I know devoid of a doubt that our future is vibrant. Thank you all for creating such an immeasurable influence!

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

If you want to locate out a lot far more about FLYTE and how you can allow send a lot far more students abroad, click proper right here for a lot far more information.

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