If you’ve travelled abroad before do you remember what you did on your very first trip? Do you remember how you felt?
I was four years old when my grandparents took me to Toronto for the Summer. All I remember was being in awe by real zebras I was seeing for the very first time in the zoo. Oh, that and eating lots of soft serve ice cream. Don’t remember anything else about Toronto honestly!
That’s why when the idea of going to Barbados to mentor the students of the Atlantic Impact 2014 program was pitched to me, that silent voice inside instantly said “GO!” And that I did, afterall Barbados was only a stone’s throw away from Trinidad where I was spending this Summer.
Atlantic Impact is a Detroit based non-profit organisation I had met earlier this year in Chicago. I was impressed but their objective of increasing opportunity in persistently low-achieving schools by using history, community engagement and global exchange, through experiential learning and student-led opportunities and youth develop college-ready skills that will empower them to become the next generation of urban innovators. During the school year the students in the program explore their communities and over the summer they go abroad. 2013 was the first year Atlantic Impact took students abroad to England. This year they decided on Barbados.
There were seven students from Denby High School in Detroit, Michigan who embarked on a trip to spend nine days exploring the history of Barbados, immersing themselves in local culture and using what they learnt to create a joint project to present to the school boards on their return.
- their excitement at tasting local food for the very first time;
- their attempts to speak the local dialect and blend in;
- their willingness to soak in all they were exposed to;
- their deep rooted desire to apply what they learnt to their daily lives when they returned home;
- their determination to plan future travels now that they have had a taste of what the world has to offer (and find ways to save to do so);
- their open-mindedness and different perspectives.
Yes they were mentoring the mentor, reminding me of my younger self when I left Trinidad and set off on my world adventures at eighteen. And I was soaking it all in enjoying the experience through their eyes as if I was a first time international traveller all over again.
Here are a few of their firsts on their trip to Barbados:
No matter how seasoned a traveller I become, I was reminded there will always be a place, a thing, a person to remind me of my very first international trip and all the excitement it brings with it. It’s that excitement that you carry on all your adventures really.
The kids of Atlantic Impact came as a family but left not just having grown closer as a group but also full of that excitement I’m talking about. Their appetites have been wetted. Their journey is far from over. Now it’s their turn to go home and inspire others that travel is possible and dreams do come true!