One of the best things I did in college was study abroad. (I studied in Sevilla, Spain) spring 2015 and still haven’t gotten over it.) I found The College Tourist the year before I left, and was able to document so many adventures that I look back on and smile about still. The relationships built with the team opened many doors to me, including this past weekend! Now that I am an “adult” (still adjusting to that), I’m based in New York City for my job. I got to jump in and attend some of the sessions and festivities during the Travel Bloggers Summit on Study Abroad & Global Citizenship.
I could tell you many things reasons to #StudyAbroadBecause… but one of the biggest things I will say is that the relationships you build abroad with fellow travelers, natives and alumni when you return are lifelong and life-changing. This weekend just confirmed that. Friday night I arrived at the HI Hostel (which was so nice, btw!) for the Gala event, which included mingling, food trucks and fun. I was able to learn more about Partners of the Americas, the NYIT abroadexchange program and meet some inspiring bloggers who do whatever they can to travel and become global citizens. Even the food trucks were inspiring actions to build community!
Luckily we had a good night’s sleep in our new Virgin Atlanticjammies, because Saturday was a BIG day. We had a burrito brunch (thanks, Chipotle!) and learned more about HI Hostel’s educational programming and Global Glimpse. The highlight of this for me was meeting two high school students who took their first international trips to the Dominican Republic and worked with their team on a sustainability project. This helped us launch our give-back hour, where we wrote letters to specific students in the New York City area, encouraging them to take the leap and study abroad. A key part of becoming a global citizen is finding ways, big and small, to give back and contribute to different communities. I loved that all of the summit attendees took time to get to know one another, the high school students, and share their #StudyAbroadBecause… stories. Together, we can tell the story of open-mindedness, empathy, adventure and compassion.
Once we finished our stories and letters, it was time for the closing adventure: the Global Citizen Festival! Truly an incredible day. The musical headliners alone were enough to be excited about: Alessia Cara, Big Sean, The Killers, The Chainsmokers, Andra Day, Green Day, Stevie Wonder (!!) and Pharrell. They were all crazy fun live, but the best was that they were all there with a cause. The number of people who completed acts of service to attend, the amount of money pledged to help support flood relief, educational opportunities and healthcare initiatives was incredible.
According to Global Citizen, this past week’s events resulted in 1.6 million actions, $3.2 billion in commitments… which will affect 221 million lives around the world. WOW. If that doesn’t show the impact of being an engaged citizen, I’m not sure what will. Learn more here. And, of course, continue to follow the College Tourist for inspiration and motivation to step outside of your comfort zone to meet, serve and embrace others.