The Youth Excursion Project
The Youth Excursion Project is dedicated to enriching the lives and expanding the minds of underserved youth by introducing them to life outside the confines of their communities. Through educationally centered excursions and travel, we provide our participants with the opportunity to experience first-hand, the vast diversity of the cultures, customs, and ethnicities around the world.
A Bit of Background...
In my freshman high school English class, I was assigned to read the book There Are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz, which provided an incredibly vivid glimpse into the lives of inner-city youth and emphasized the importance of shedding light on those people and issues often ignored by society. The story resonated with me long after my class and sparked both my interest in the lives of inner-city youth and my feeling of wanting to correct the injustices of inequality. These values led to my decision to serve with AmeriCorps.
In doing so, I had the opportunity to work on the southside of Chicago at a school that served a predominantly disadvantaged student body, tutoring students and coordinating and implementing an after-school program. Though my experience at the school was extremely rewarding, it often reminded me of something that Bill Clinton once said, “Intelligence is spread equally among all races; it’s opportunity that’s not.” This insight applied to the students at the school at which I worked.
While the school itself was providing a great education, the students lacked many of the opportunities that help children grow, both as intellectuals, and as people — the types of opportunities that the majority of children from more privileged backgrounds enjoy. I was greatly frustrated by these shortcomings and knew that my work in combating such inequalities had to go beyond my ten months of service with AmeriCorps.
Therefore, I decided to follow my aspiration to start this non-profit organization. Traveling has always been my passion because it is such an amazing learning experience. Those who travel get to encounter the world first-hand, and often learn about themselves, and who they want to be, in the process. I wholeheartedly believe that travel is an incredible supplement to classroom learning, because as vivid as photos and stories can be, or as illustrative as presentations can be, experiencing such material first-hand brings it to life.
Of equal importance, when people are exposed to cultures unknown to them, they gain a better understanding of the people and struggles within those cultures, and can even find ways to identify with those individuals. Reaching such insights often leads people to appreciate others, not in spite of their differences, but because of their differences. In turn, I believe that traveling enhances an individual’s perception of the world, and is therefore, a significant component of education, rather than a luxury to be enjoyed only by those who can afford it.
— Ella Washburn (Executive Director)