Irvin (on the left) volunteering in the Dominican Republic.

Irvin (on the left) volunteering in the Dominican Republic.

Teaching Traveling: Looking for an opportunity for student travel to volunteer abroad?

See this story from New York high school student, Irvin Solano, about how he was able to volunteer in the Dominican Republic with a nonprofit organization called Global Glimpse! Irvin, tell us about yourself.

Irvin: Hello! Currently I’m 17 years old. I’m finishing up high school, and looking towards college. I live with my family in Manhattan, and work at a community center in the Bronx.

Irvin working in the Dominican Republic.

Irvin working in the Dominican Republic.

I have always been interested in travel. Living in New York all my life, I would take any opportunity to get out and see someplace new — even just a different part of my borough.

The most interesting travel I have undertaken so far was my trip to the Dominican Republic for two weeks this past summer with Global Glimpse, a nonprofit organization that brings diverse U.S. high school students to volunteer in developing countries.

With the Global Glimpse team.

With the Global Glimpse team.

While we were in the Dominican Republic, we learned about numerous problems facing the country, and the many organizations that are helping. At the end of our trip we got to help.

We decided to help in a community referred to by the locals as the “forgotten community”. We worked with an underfunded school and found out what they needed. Their main concern was that they didn’t have a safe place for the kids to play. After our initial meeting with the community members at the school, we met again to propose our project, which was to create a garden and basketball court.

Meeting with teachers and community members to figure out how to best help.

Meeting with teachers and community members to figure out how to best help.

The community loved the idea, and the next day we came with materials and began working side-by-side with community members. Within a few days the project was complete.

I was thrilled when I returned to the states and a short while later, received pictures of community members enjoying themselves on the basketball court. I was filled with pride and joy, knowing that I helped in showing this small community that there are people out there who care about them, and we surely haven’t forgotten about them.

A mountain view in the Dominican Republic.

A mountain view in the Dominican Republic.

TT: Amazing! Tell us more about Global Glimpse, and how funding works for this travel opportunity.

I: The organization I traveled with, Global Glimpse, is a service-learning program that partners with high schools across the country to bring students from all walks of life together to empower them to learn, grow, and change the world.

If you think there are students who would benefit from a program like this at your school, I would highly encourage you to contact Global Glimpse.

Irvin doing English tutoring.

Irvin doing English tutoring.

Funding for this trip came from many sources. I received a scholarship from Global Glimpse, which covered some of the expenses. Our school’s Global Glimpse group had some fundraisers, and we divided the money, which also helped a bit.

Lastly, I reached out to family and friends and told them all about the program and how much it meant to me, and I got some funding through that as well.

Planting in the garden, during their volunteer project.

Planting in the garden, during their volunteer project.

TT: Wonderful! Tell us about a powerful moment during your work in the Dominican Republic.

I: One interesting moment from my trip was “Immigration Day”. This day we learned about the tension between Haitians and Dominicans. I got to meet with a man of both Haitian and Dominican descent.

He shared many stories of struggle, discrimination, racism, and hate. It was very interesting to hear these stories from a man who has been through so much, but still is so loving and forgiving.

Spending the morning with a local community leader and lifetime activist for her community.

Spending the morning with a local community leader and lifetime activist for her community.

TT: So powerful. How has your experience in the Dominican Republic impacted you as a person?

I: My trip has impacted me in numerous ways. As a student, I value my education way more now, knowing how good it is compared to the school I spent time with. As a son, I have a greater appreciation for the sacrifices my mother makes consistently to support me.

Irvin, covered in paint from the volunteer project!

Irvin, covered in paint from the volunteer project!

As a human, I now feel an obligation to help my fellow human beings, because so many are suffering over things that are out of their control, and it’s only when we start standing up for each other that change occurs.

The backboard for the playground, with the whole Global Glimpse team.

The backboard for the playground, with the whole Global Glimpse team.

TT: Yes! Now, what advice do you have for people reading this?

I: The world is a huge place filled with many people and great places. The more you explore our planet and its people, the more you’ll learn and grow. You’ll become more connected with our world, and find that there’s so much you’ve yet seen and learned. You’ll grow in so many ways.

Handing out certificates at the graduation of their English students.

Handing out certificates at the graduation of their English students.

Just this year, I started traveling for the first time. My travels have allowed me to see some of the most beautiful places, and some of worst places. I’ve met some amazing people I wouldn’t have, had I not traveled.

I’m only seventeen, and being raised by a single parent. You don’t have to wait until you’re old or rich to travel. You can start right now!

Irvin playing with local children while volunteering.

Irvin playing with local children while volunteering.

TT: Thanks so much, Irvin! Readers, what questions or comments do you have for this inspiring young man?

A special thank you to the HI USA Summit on Study Abroad and Global Citizenship, which connected me with Irvin, as well as many other wonderful resources to help young people see the world!

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Posted by Lillie

Lillie started TeachingTraveling.com in 2010 to share the infinite ways to combine education and world exploration. Lillie has been a Boston teacher since 2003, and chronicles her own travels at AroundTheWorldL.com.

6 Comments

  1. This is such a powerful post for young people. You really can change the world for the better and you don’t have to wait until you’re older or working to start making a positive impact. Very articulate and insightful interview. Well done, Irvin!

    Reply

    1. Thank you very much!

      Reply

  2. Great interview! You speak beautifully and with lots of depth about your experience, the importance of traveling, and what Global Glimpse offers! Very nice to meet you at the Summit!

    Reply

    1. Thank you! And it was very nice to meet you too.

      Reply

  3. Hi! Feel free to leave your comments or just share.

    Reply

    1. Thanks for your great interview, Irvin! You will inspire many!

      Reply

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