Category Archives: Service

Travel essay contest winner

Each year, Farther Foundation scholarship recipients participate in life-changing programs across the country and around the world. When they return, they share their experiences with us, and we share them with you. Delia won third place in our essay contest this year. Here is what she experienced during a four-week adventure in Costa Rica.

Delia with some new friends in Costa Rica.

Delia with some new friends in Costa Rica.

“This summer, I had the opportunity to travel along with 36 others students from around the United States with the AFS Intercultural Program to Costa Rica for four weeks for a community service based trip. At first I was apprehensive to meet the people that were going on my trip. What if I couldn’t connect with people? What if I couldn’t find someone like me? By the end of the first week, I knew I had made friends that would last me a lifetime. I was in love with the friendships I had made. There where people from every corner of the United States. We even had a girl from Belgium. Everybody that I met was so open and eager to be friends with everybody, so it was easy to talk to everyone. My worries about connecting to people and finding people like me went out the window. We were able to connect through our differences. Every conversation was a learning experience. Each person in our program was completely different from the next. That is what made our trip the most interesting. Had we all been from the same area, the trip would have been completely different. The people I met and shared this experience with were hands down the best part of trip. Without them I would not have been able to learn as much, experience as much, laugh as much, or cry as much. Of course leaving the trip would have been easier and a lot less emotional, but I would not have changed a single thing.

 My worries about connecting to people and finding people like me went out the window. We were able to connect through our differences. Every conversation was a learning experience.”

During my first week, I stayed at a farm in the mountains, and occasionally the clouds, of Costa Rica.  Costa Rican farms, or “fincas”, are completely different. Being in the mountains, the elevation is constantly changing and with each step something new is  discovered. Finca La Flor was completely engulfed in the forest and it puzzled me to think that anyone could have cleared out the space to build such a lovely place. As you enter, there is a small building which became our mecca for meetings and occasionally functioning wifi. As you walk further, you run into cabins, small fields with emerging crops, and stables that housed horses, cows, goats and chickens. From certain places on the finca, you can see down the entire mountain and down into the valley. It is completely green and picturesque. I have never seen anything more tranquil and awe inspiring. There is something about being completely separated from the busy world we live in and knowing that there is nothing but forest for miles that puts one at complete ease. Because Finca La Flor’s elevation is so high, clouds would roll in everyday and cover everything. Everything becomes foggy and misty and it is impossible to see past the trees that surround the finca. Eventually the clouds would roll past and again we could enjoy the beauty of the finca.

For the next two weeks, I stayed with my host family. I had a mother, father, younger sister, younger brother, and older brother. We lived in a humble home on a hill only a short walk from the school where my group did community service. During the process of choosing which summer program I was going on, I was sure I didn’t want to stay with a host family. I thought about how odd it would be to stay in a stranger’s home and be forced to be integrated into their family and lifestyle. I also knew that language would be a huge barrier. I felt like staying with my peers instead would allow me to enjoy the experience more because I would be able to communicate with them and share my experiences. As soon as I met my host family, they greeted me with warmth and acceptance. I was immediately a part of their family and I felt it. They were the nicest people and the most wholesome family. They supported each other and loved each other so much. They loved spending time with each other and I loved that about them. There is such a huge emphasis on family in Costa Rica. It is like nothing I have ever experienced. It was so wonderful to not only see firsthand such a beautiful family relationship, but to also be a part of it.

“It was an amazing trip that I will remember forever and will be forever grateful to everyone that made it possible.”

During my fourth week, I stayed in a national park where I helped park rangers to improve and build rainforest trails. The highlight of the trip, however, was the Costa Rican coffee which is incredibly savory. While there, I got to take a tour of a coffee plantation. I was absolutely in love with it. I was so happy just to be there and I was absorbing everything with such enthusiasm. I was joking around with my friends that I had found my calling, but I really think I did, or at least I found something that I want to work with. I started to think that maybe I could work on the business side of the coffee industry, like exporting or sales. Coffee also is a way of connecting and spending time with people, especially family. I love going to my grandma’s house and drinking coffee with her and my mom.

In all, it was an amazing trip that I will remember forever and will be forever grateful to everyone that made it possible. The one small detail, coffee, is what stood out the most for me. Even if I don’t go into the coffee industry when I grow up, at least I finally know what it feels like to be passionate about something. Whatever my future passion will be, I now know how to recognize the excitement and the feelings that I should have when I do find it.”

Farther Foundation and the students we serve depend on the tax deductible donations from people like you to make these life changing experiences possible. Visit our website to make a donation online.

Farther Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization providing scholarships to low-income students to inspire them to reach their highest aspirations through educational travel experiences.

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Internship for a World Traveler

Erika in Vietnam

Erika (left) on her service trip to Vietnam

Erika is accumulating a great resume. She participated in a service trip to Vietnam after her junior year of high school. She then won a prestigious scholarship to study with the U.S. State Department Strategic Language Initiative in Turkey the following summer. She attends St. Olaf College, a selective liberal arts college in Minnesota and she has had an internship at Morgan Stanley. This summer she adds another line to her resume with an internship at Kaehler Luggage, a purveyor of high quality luggage and travel products, headquartered in Winnetka.

Though impressive, this list of accomplishments and opportunities is not entirely uncommon for students from Winnetka and similar communities. Erika Jimenez however comes from a more disadvantaged community in Chicago where these opportunities are rare. But, if opportunities are provided, achievement need not be rare. Despite her family’s economic struggles, Erika has become part of the first generation of her family to attend college.

Some of Erika’s opportunities have been made possible through a partnership between Farther Foundation and Kaehler Luggage. Farther Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships for deserving high school students from low-income families to participate in educational travel programs across the country and around the world. Participants in Farther Foundation programs have gone on to graduate from high school and college at rates far higher than their peers. Kaehler Luggage approached Farther Foundation with an idea for an internship that would allow students to work alongside experienced staff in a Kaehler Luggage store, learn about products and gear that makes travel safer and more convenient, and practice salesmanship, communication and other job performance skills.

Ben Kaehler, General Manager and Director of Operations at Kaehler Luggage, explained, “As a company we believe that travel provides an education that books cannot. We are thrilled to learn about, and partner with, the Farther Foundation who is giving these experiences to members of the Chicago community who otherwise would not have them. The experience and training that Erika and students like her will receive in our stores will be invaluable in preparing them for successful future employment.”

Erika has a career interest in retail management and is excited about her internship with Kaehler Luggage. She is a young woman who eagerly takes advantage of opportunities and learns her lessons well. Upon returning from her service program in Vietnam, Erika wrote, “Going abroad is the ultimate time to discover new things about yourself. I discovered that it takes lots of effort and I should not only be patient with others, but with myself as well. I realized that my purpose is to take the opportunities available to me and use it for the greater good to serve others. The experience helped me be a better leader because it taught me that I must push myself to become what I am truly capable of and to succeed.”

Farther Foundation and the students we serve depend on the tax deductible donations from people like you to make these life changing experiences possible. Visit our website to make a donation online.

Farther Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization providing scholarships to low-income students to inspire them to reach their highest aspirations through educational travel experiences.

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Meeting the Masai and the Wildlife in Tanzania

Farther Foundation student scholars have traveled near, far and farther, challenging themselves to experience new people, places, ideas, languages and cultures. Program destinations have included top colleges and universities, rugged western wilderness areas and more than twenty countries including China, Thailand, Panama, Argentina, Spain, Ghana, Israel and Jordan.DSCN1164 DSCN1254 photo (3) alicia-tanzania

Of all our program destinations, none are any more foreign or challenging than Tanzania. Our scholarship recipient, Alicia, chose Tanzania precisely so she could immerse herself in something entirely new and challenging. In her application to us, Alicia said that she has not always been outgoing, but meeting new people and experiencing new experiences has more and more become a driving force in her life. She was also eager to participate in a program where she could provide community service. Alicia was referred to us by our great partner, HighSight, and her Tanzania program was led by Putney Student Travel.

Farther Foundation and the students we serve depend on the tax deductible donations from people like you to make these life changing experiences possible. Visit our website to make a donation online.

Follow our work more closely by subscribing to our blog or liking “Farther Foundation” on Facebook. Thank you for your support.

Farther Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization providing scholarships to low-income students to inspire them to reach their highest aspirations through educational travel experiences.

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Finding new relationships in the Dominican Republic

Tyler in the Dominican

Tyler (front) with friends in the Dominican Republic

Tyler was awarded a Farther Foundation scholarship and chose to participate in a Visions Service Adventures program in the Dominican Republic, where he would learn the local language and culture and provide service in the community.

Tyler describes himself as a shy individual, but throughout the course of his time in the Dominican, he came out of his shell, made several significant new friendships and found that he was often the bridge between members of his traveling group. But his fellow program participants were not the only new friends he found:

“The most surprising relationship created was between me and the Dominicans because I have very bad Spanish speaking and comprehension skills. That did not stop the Dominicans though; they continuously spoke to me and tried to create ways to communicate. In fact, a deaf mute girl, through constant attempts eventually got me to understand and I became friends with her. A young Dominican girl who really wanted to keep in contact with me does, and despite the language barrier, we still find a way to have conversations. I still converse with several people from the trip.”

Our students have very few experiences beyond the confines of their own neighborhoods, and so despite their inherent curiosity and eagerness to learn it is not surprising that they also have a lot of apprehension when arriving in a new and different environment. In the end, Tyler, like most of our scholarship recipients, had his risk taking rewarded with a greater confidence and sense of self that will help propel him to a brighter future.

Farther Foundation and the students we serve depend on the tax deductible donations from people like you to make these life changing experiences possible. Visit our website to make a donation online.

Follow our work more closely by subscribing to this blog or liking “Farther Foundation” on Facebook. Thank you for your support.

Farther Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization providing scholarships to low-income students to inspire them to reach their highest aspirations through educational travel experiences.

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Language Immersion and Community Service in Costa Rica

Brittanie in the BandFarther Foundation awarded Brittanie a scholarship to go to Costa Rica this summer and participate in a language immersion and community service program offered by Rustic Pathways. Brittanie leaves tomorrow, and she sent us this note today:

I just want to thank you and all those involved in Farther Foundation. This trip would not be possible without your help and I’m so grateful. I leave on Tuesday and I’m looking forward to coming back a more informed and exposed citizen, ready to make a difference. On behalf of my whole family, we thank you very much.

P.s.: My photos are going to be awesome!”

When we select our scholarship recipients, we look for students that are striving and achieving despite challenging socio-economic circumstances. Brittanie is a great example. She excels at school and actively participates in programs at Evanston Scholars that are helping her to get the most out of her high school experience and prepare for higher education. What tipped the scales in her selection however was her enthusiasm and belief that a foreign travel experience could be a life changing experience. Here is what she told us in her application:

“I chose this program because I want to explore the world, explore the places I’ve only read about online, in real life. To have the real life experience would no doubt change me and the way I think about things. I believe that people who travel think about things more meaningfully. My mom always tells me that you can’t fully understand a person until you walk in their shoes. I cannot fully understand a people, a culture, or a language until I go to that specific place and immerse myself fully in the culture. Nelson Mandela said that “if you talk to a man in a language he understands, it goes to his head, but if you talk to him in his language, it goes to his heart”.”

Have a great experience Brittanie, and we look forward to hearing from you when you return.

Farther Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization providing scholarships to low-income students to inspire them to reach their highest aspirations through educational travel experiences.

Farther Foundation and the students we serve depend on the tax deductible donations from people like you to make these life changing experiences possible. Visit our website to make a donation online.

Follow our work more closely by subscribing to this blog or liking “Farther Foundation” on Facebook. Thank you for your support.

Go Farther!

 

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Farther Foundation education travel grants help deserving students

Melissa This past summer, with the help of Farther Foundation, 16 eager and deserving Chicago High School students had the opportunity to travel across the country and around the world. While on their programs, these students had unique experiences that opened their eyes to a new world of possibilities and raised their expectations for what they could achieve in their education and in their lives.

One of these students was Melissa, a senior at Notre Dame High School who traveled to Ghana. Here is what Melissa had to say about her adventure:

                Traveling to Ghana in the summer of 2011 was definitely the best experience that I have ever had. To be honest, I did not know what to expect. When people describe any part of Africa, they only mention the poverty, never the beauty. Ghana has a beautiful rainforest and beautiful friendly people. My host family was very welcoming and I think they were the perfect family for me. Although, some of the most touching experiences occurred in the children’s home I volunteered at.

                A few days after arriving to Ghana, we finally arrived at the children’s home. This place had orphans, lost children, and children who were temporarily there because of family issues. There were so many different personalities. Everyday when I arrived, I would see smiles on their faces because they loved company. One of my favorite moments was when then kids took all of our cameras and took pictures like there was no tomorrow. Aside from keeping them company, we were able to re-paint the walls, buy new mattresses, fix some plumbing issues, build mosquito screens, and donate all sorts of toys.

                My family included a host mother, father, two aunts, one sister, and five brothers. I loved having plenty of family members. There was never a dull moment because there was always somebody to keep me company. They taught me so much about their culture. I learned how to eat foods without any eating utensils, how to speak “Twi,” how to greet people, how important school is in order to be successful, and how important family really is in our lives.

                As I returned back to the United States, I realized that I have indeed grown as a person. I am more understanding, grateful, and willing. My manners have also significantly improved. I was never a really big fan of saying please since I got whatever I wanted anyway. However, I now catch myself saying it more often. A life-long goal of mine is to continue to help those in need. My love for the country of Ghana is so strong that I plan to return within two years. To me, it is now like a second home. I am grateful that I got a scholarship from the Farther Foundation because without it, my trip to Ghana would have never happened. I am also thankful for the new friends, family, and memories that I now have.

Farther Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization providing scholarships to low-income students to inspire them to reach their highest aspirations through educational travel experiences.

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Mid-year report now available online

AnSchool Girlsother 18 eager and deserving students have been awarded Farther Foundation enrichment scholarships to help them participate in unique and life changing educational travel programs this summer. Our scholars will travel to 12 countries on 5 continents and study at three U.S. universities.

Meanwhile, we keep getting exciting news from our alumni from past years who are just now deciding where they will go to college in the fall.

Our Mid-year Report is now available online for you to catch-up on all of our recent activity and to learn how you can help make more of these opportunities possible.

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Farther Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization providing scholarships to low-income students to inspire them to reach their highest aspirations through educational travel experiences.

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