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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
TT: Thanks so much, Irvin! Readers, what questions or comments do you have for this inspiring young man?
Want more authentic teen writing? See these mentor texts from middle and high school students which span a variety of topics and genres.
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!
The author, Lillie Marshall, is National Board Certified Teacher from Boston who has been a full-time public school educator since 2003. She launched Teaching Traveling in 2010 to share expert global education resources, and over 1.6 million readers have visited over the past decade. Lillie also runs Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog, and DrawingsOf.com for educational cartoons. Do stay in touch via subscribing to her monthly newsletter, and following on social media with the links below!