Student Travel that Changes Lives

If you would've asked me a decade ago where I would be after 30, without a doubt, my answer would have been "France, of course!" I never planned to move to New York City, but after finishing my Masters degree here I found a job in a really supportive and exciting school, so I decided to try it out for a year.  Working with low-income students from all five boroughs, who at 14 and 15 years old are grappling  with more obstacles than I have ever had to, has brought so much meaning to my life that I stuck around. Now, at 32 years old, my dream has gone from living in France to bringing the life-changing opportunity that I had in college when I studied abroad to my students.

Five years ago I started a two-week cultural immersion program for my students that accepts applicants based on their performance and dedication with no consideration of their parents' income. I passionately believe that every student should be allowed the experience of travel - meeting new people, trying new foods, and seeing that there are endless ways to co-exist with one another.  Having taken two groups of students to France, I can say without a doubt that it has changed lives. Watching them experience French culture first-hand through their week-long homestays always reinforces my decision to start this program. I fight endlessly to help them raise the necessary funds to provide even our neediest of francophile students the possibility of world travel. The students themselves work to raise funds for 15 months prior to leaving for France. We raise money for our scholarships by selling lunch at school once a week, participating in the PTA Fun Run in Prospect Park each year, selling Fair Trade chocolates and gifts at holidays, and asking for individual donations from people who are also passionate about travel and cultural exploration. 

We work hard to provide scholarships for our students, because I believe that their socio-economic situation shouldn't restrict their opportunities. I am astonished each and every day at the resilience of my students! For example, some students are overcoming homelessness, and most of my ambassadors live in single-parent, low-income households.  On a whole, the majority of students enrolled in our school qualify for free or reduced lunch, so you could imagine how living on such small budgets in one of the most expensive cities in this country makes it difficult to come up with the $2,200 cost of the program. Despite extreme challenges, the French Ambassadors at ESA maintain high academic expectations, excellent attendance records and a positive attitude, dedicated to serving our community.

We are now only a four months and a few thousand dollars away from traveling to France. Please consider donating to my amazing students and seeing their life-changing experience. Any donation over $200 will get personal updates from one of our scholarship recipients and a postcard from their favorite place in France that we visit. Donations over $500 will get you personal updates, a postcard and a gift from France.

Donations

  • Rebecca Katz 
    • $25 
    • 45 mos
  • Benjamin Miller 
    • $250 
    • 45 mos
  • Denis White 
    • $100 
    • 45 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $1,500 
    • 45 mos
  • Catherine May 
    • $75 
    • 45 mos
See all

Organizer

Stacy Blair 
Organizer
New York, NY
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