Nothing can ever compare to the extraordinary sensation of being in another world for the first time. It is both terrifying, and wonderfully thrilling all at once. It is a feeling that never truly leaves you, and yet is never experienced in the same way again.
Even though I couldn’t quite sum it up as succinctly at the time, these were all things that were whirling through my head as I took those first steps on foreign soil on my first trip overseas. Coming from a small town in the Midwest at the young age of 14, I had no idea that my first trip abroad would impact me in such a powerful way. It is an experience that, nearly 20 years later, still ripples through my life in unexpected ways. It has propelled my trajectory, influenced decisions, and without a doubt changed the course of my life. I am forever grateful to the high school teachers I had who took it upon themselves to create this opportunity, and for opening up my small world and exposing me to the greater human experience.
It is the value and attainment of this very experience that is gaining fast momentum within the education sector. In recent years, the idea of traveling abroad was viewed as more of a luxury than a requirement. However, today the number of college students studying abroad has grown tremendously, and graduate resumes tout global explorations. In most universities, you can study nearly anywhere in the world. We devote entire departments and ample resources to implementing international programming into our academic infrastructure. And while we are still in the early stages of conducting long-term impact studies on travel in education, it cannot be refuted that this shift is a reflection of our global society. Technology, business, and interdependent economies are making the world smaller with every passing day, and making an international perspective all the more valuable.
While we have witnessed a tremendous growth in college study abroad popularity, the fact remains that 70% of Americans do not go on to attain a college degree. Well over half of the population in the U.S. will never have access to these resources or support that would allow them to study abroad, and many people will never realize it is a possibility.
FLYTE was born out of the idea that travel, combined with education at a young age, could have a profound and lasting impact. It can be the foundation with which a student’s future aspirations are built. Anyone who has ever experienced that same feeling of arriving in a place for the first time, being truly outside of any of the familiar comforts of home, knows that travel can open up a realm of possibility that a classroom, or a small community never can.
Today, we are excited to launch this new endeavor, and hope that you will join us and support our efforts to bring this opportunity to young people across the country.
FLYTE Executive Director