Guest post from Jessica (DC Repatriate)
Although I have plenty of formal education, much of my knowledge has come from travel. Twenty years ago, I was an inner-city high school kid dreaming about traveling the world. As I started to travel, I dreamed to be part of a movement to get kids to see the world. A radio show made my dream come true. One summer afternoon, while stuck on the dreary 95 South traffic, I listened to an amazing story on NPR about an international travel program at a local DC high school, Ballou High School. This program has taken kids all over the world, from Spain to Ecuador.
I enjoyed listening to the kids share their amazing travel experiences that opened their eyes to a whole new world. I immediately called NPR to see how I could help. They put me in touch with Allison B., the teacher who is making this incredible experience possible. She shared with me stories about the students’ travels in the Dominican Republic and in Zambia. The students were assigned to do a service project where they help local communities build homes. She enthusiastically told me how much the kids have learned, not only during the trip, but before as well. The students are required to pay $500 of their estimated $3,000 trip costs. They are taught how to open a savings account, money management skills, and to fund-raise in their communities.
As I read their blog, I can see how much these young men and women have learned from their experiences. I was moved by the words of the students: “This has forever changed my character. The world is so much bigger than D.C. and I plan on exploring the rest of it!” or “I really hope I can experience this someday again and come back. I might even come back for one year and help out the Mariposa Foundation” I can’t help but to be inspired by these young adults. Some lose hope on today’s youth but when I read about how these lives are changed, I know our future is in good hands.
Earlier this summer, Allison asked me to become a Ballou International Ambassador. As an Ambassador, I am required to raise at least $1000 for a student participating in the program. I am excited to get my friends, family, and readers involved in this amazing project. What better way to raise funds than to cook? From October 2014 to February 2015, I will be hosting a series of globally themed Bookalokal dinners to raise funds for this amazing cause. My first dinner is an Oktoberfest themed dinner next Tuesday, September 30th. I will be putting on my dirndl and serving traditional German cuisine I learned to make the year I lived in Germany. What globally inspired dinner will make you sign up for our fundraising dinners?