FLYTE is more than a non-profit organization. It is a community built by supporters and donors who want to empower students to change their lives – and the world – through travel.
This week, we’re so lucky to share Chip’s story. He’s a member of our FLYTE Crew, SEO wizard, volunteer, and one of the kindest people you’ll ever meet. Read on to learn about why he supports our FLYTE students and also get some of his wise travel advice.
How has travel impacted your life?
Confidence. More than anything travel has given me confidence in myself. No matter what is around the corner or over the horizon, I know I can get through it.
What’s your favorite travel memory?
Ah, that would be Valentina. It was my first trip abroad and I was by myself on a slow train through southern Italy. Valentina and her friend were sitting across from me. Soon after the train departed, Valentina looked at me and asked “American?” I realized that “American” was the extent of her English. She quickly realized that I could not speak a word of Italian. For six hours, Valentina made it her life’s mission to teach me every word of Italian. To this day, there hasn’t been a time that I laughed so much and for so long with a perfect stranger. It’s been many years but I still miss her and thank her for teaching me that smiles and laughter are universal.
Why did you choose to support FLYTE?
When I first read the email from Matt about FLYTE’s mission, it instantly reminded me of my childhood. I grew up in a poor rural community of wonderful people but little else. There were plenty of dreams but no realistic horizon to cross. FLYTE is not just providing a trip to a different country, it’s providing a chance for disadvantaged kids to discover new possibilities for themselves and for their communities that would otherwise be out of reach.
What advice would you give someone who’s hesitant about the idea of travelling abroad?
Stop adding up the “what if’s”. No matter how much you prepare, something will go wrong. Whether it’s a late flight, missed train or you end up getting off at the wrong stop and have to walk two miles at night, in the rain, in the middle of nowhere while dragging your extremely loud bag, something will inevitably go wrong. Those little “departures” from what you have planned will become part of your story and you will treasure them forever. I’ll also leave you with the words that got me to finally take my first journey abroad, “Guess what, tomorrow may never come, so just go!”