Peru, Ecuador, Tanzania, Uganda, India, Australia, Belize, El Salvador
National Geographic Student Expeditions, Putney Student Travel
The students on these trips are either supported through FAFSA funding or are self-funded. As a group leader, my expenses are built into these costs.
Through Carpe Diem International Education, I bring small groups of university and gap year students abroad for semester long programs. Every semester Carpe Diem sends groups to 6 regions of the world. The programs are highly experiential. On a basic level, my duties are to handle logistics, take care of the health and happiness of my students, and to help them fully engage with and learn from the cultures and the people of the countries we are traveling in.
With my students, I have taught indigenous children in the Andes of Ecuador while helping them to plant a garden to feed the school. We have picked organic coffee with the farmers at an inter-faith organic and fair trade coffee-cooperative that has transformed the face and future of a small community in Uganda. We have helped to celebrate the birth of a Maasai baby while living in a boma in Tanzania and helping to care for the new mother. Every one of the 7 trips I have led has been full of adventure and life changing connections.
There is little more satisfying than seeing my students’ eyes light up continually with new insights into themselves and the world around them. I see every student transform through our time together, becoming more confident and empowered to step into how they want to manifest themselves in the world and how they want to impact it. These experiences change you: eating a dinner with your host family that you helped to harvest, dancing and laughing with the Maasai women until your calves ache from jumping and your face hurts from smiling so hard, baking bread and sharing stories with the local women, seeing the polluted rivers that are the primary source of water for the people you have spent everyday with, riding a bus and giving your seat to an old wizened Buddhist monk that smiles at you kindly, having a child you just met grab your hand and walk with you, laughing and singing, down a dirt road. Through all of these moments, global issues become personal and students find life-long connections and friendships around the world.
Years after trips, I have students that are still inspired by what they experienced. Just to name a couple, one past student is working on behalf of peasants to safeguard their homes. Another is working with HIV positive mothers to help them sell beads, providing income to send their children to school.
Being able to be part of that process, again and again, has been the most rewarding experience of my life.
More than anything, the one thing I want people to know: whether you live in the U.S. and want to get out and make the lives of woman around the world better, or if you’re a young mother on the other side of the world, with a mountain of challenges in front of you, as long as you act with love, creativity, and determination, anything is possible.