September 2019

FLYTE Update: Here’s What Happened to the Students We Sent to Colombia

Posted By : webmaster/ 268 0


the FLYTE students on a field trip in Colombia standing in front of a yellow church
Posted: 8/26/2019 | August 26th, 2019

When I started my nonprofit Foundation for Learning and Youth Travel Education (FLYTE), my goal was to make international travel accessible to low-income youth across the country, who are incredibly passionate and smart but would never have the opportunity to travel abroad otherwise.

Earlier this year, we raised $15,000 to send a group of kids from Envision Academy to Colombia.

Located in Oakland California, Envision Academy uses an innovative project-based learning model to ensure that its students — the majority of whom live below the poverty line — are ready for post-secondary education and beyond. (Most are first-generation immigrants and will be the first in their family to go to college.)

Last month, they returned from their exciting trip to the country so I wanted to share some of what they did and learned, so you can see what your support accomplished. For most of the students, it was their first time in another country and, needless to say, it had a big impact on them.

Our group started in Bogotá, where they climbed to the top of Cerro de Monserrate and explored Plaza Bolívar, where Jeremy, the teacher leading the trip, gave a cross-curricular lecture about Simon Bolívar, Colombia’s history during the drug cartel years, and the architecture around them. They also went on a street art tour led by two local artists, on which they learned all about art techniques and the political climate that prompted many of the pieces that they saw.

the FLYTE students enjoying a street art tour in Colombia

The students immediately started seeing commonalities between Oakland and Colombia. Darrilyn, a fifteen year old sophomore, remarked that this trip, her first time out of the country, “changed my perceptions and preconceived notions of Colombia a lot, and I saw that it’s more like home than I previously thought.” She also “really enjoyed this walking tour because I like art and I like graffiti because it’s unconventional art and it tells the story of a person.”

Afterward, the group headed to Cartagena. They got a perfect intro to the city on a walking tour through our partner, Context Travel, during which they learned a lot about Cartagena’s history as a port for enslaved people. This resonated with the students, who stressed how important it was for more people to have this knowledge. Kai, whose new passport got its first stamp on this trip, had the realization that “when people think about Latin America, they often don’t think about people of African descent.”

the FLYTE students on a tour around Cartagena with Context Tours

Myani, who’s 17 and just graduated from Envision Academy, was equally moved: “It’s inspiring in a way because even though our ancestors were enslaved, they made the city what it is. You can see their value to the community. Even though there’s an oppressive connotation, because they were enslaved, flip it and make it a powerful lesson. Make it your own: My ancestors built this city.”

On top of all this, the students immersed themselves in Colombian cuisine by taking a street food tour with Cartagena Connections. They tried everything from ajiaco and arepas to bandeja paisa, mango biche, and a bubble gum soda.

One of the highlights of the trip was visiting Cartagena’s Barrio San Francisco with Alex Rocha from Experience Real Cartagena, whose tours are designed to make deeper connections with the marginalized communities of Colombia. (Alex’s company also operates as a social enterprise, and so the proceeds fund an after-school program for the local community.) Our students had an opportunity to connect with some of these youth through activities like drawing, dancing, and soccer, as well as through honest conversations about their shared experiences.

the FLYTE students in Colombia

Aliza, a sophomore and president of the student council who had never left the US before, felt that this was the highlight of her trip because she was able to “see the kids and understand their environment and how they live every day.” Jany, who is seventeen and served as the de-facto translator for our Spanish-speaking parents, reflected on how the kids she met “make the best out of what they have. They’re grateful and humble and always try to find something positive.”

Tayvion, a 14-year-old who also was traveling abroad for the first time, had a deep conversation with one of the Colombian kids about police brutality. When Tayvion asked if they had guns, his new friend replied, “Yes, but they never shoot.” Having drawn parallels and distinctions with his own community, Tayvion shared his devastating realization: “It made me think about how, for officers in the U.S., their first instinct is just to shoot.” (To me, that’s a sad statement coming from a kid and just shows you up much police violence is an everyday fact for many people in this country.)

the FLYTE students on a walking tour in Colombia

Throughout this entire journey, the group took part in daily reflections. They shared their experiences, learned from one another, and bonded over how they’d changed throughout the trip.

Joshua, a sophomore who had never even left California before this trip, said that the biggest lessons he’d learned were: “Do not take the things you have for granted. Do not be afraid to try new things. Finally, don’t be scared to learn about new people.”

Waldo, who is a junior, shared that, “we should be open-minded about other cultures and people ’cause we might find some similarities between us and them. We shouldn’t judge a people or culture based on their past alone.”

the FLYTE students on a walking tour in Colombia

These new experiences not only shifted their mindset, but they also made the students think about their future and goals. Yasmeen told us, “I have a lot of dreams. There are so many benefits in the US, and I’m not going to waste my time. I should travel more and learn about different cultures.”

In addition to the knowledge that she gained, Veronica shared that her “goals are to help my community with any of the work that I do. I think this trip is going to help me achieve that because I’ve realized how similar my community is with the community of Cartagena. We can use other cities from different countries to help each other with the issues we are going through.”

Similarly, Ronald, a student who was excited to relay his experiences with his stepmom (who’s from Colombia), shared that “this trip made me open-minded to different cultures and makes me propose solidarity within communities in Oakland.”

And, in a quote I especially love, Darrilyn said of her time in Colombia: “My hopes and dreams are to be a political analyst and to travel the world. This trip showed me there is no fear to travel.”

This is why FLYTE exists: to create moments and lessons like this for students so they can see the world outside their borders and dream big.

the FLYTE students at the airport leaving for Colombia

The experiences these students had in Colombia left an indelible mark on them. Most of them had never been on a plane before their trip to Colombia. Not only did they learn about the culture and history of another country but they also discovered how a community can rise up in times of adversity.

On the last days of their trip, the students started planning how they’re going to take action back home. One of their ideas was to create a mural, much like the ones they saw in Colombia, to educate others about how Oakland continues to overcome its struggles.

Because of this trip, these youth now have a bigger understanding of the world and the power they each have to change it for the better.

***

And, so, our mission continues!

I want to thank you for helping make this happen! It takes an entire network of passionate individuals and businesses to run one of these trips, and we wanted to celebrate some of our partners who made this trip such an unforgettable experience for our students:

  • World Nomads, which donated all of our travel insurance. Knowing that they had us covered for any unforeseen circumstances, like lost luggage, gave us such peace of mind.
  • Selian Hostel in Cartegena for providing tours and breakfast for the students free of charge.
  • Javier from MYGHT travel, who made the daunting process of booking flights for a group of 20+ a seamless and stress-free experience.
  • Context Travel, which worked with us to craft unique, immersive experiences (at a discount!) for our students.
  • Alex Rocha from Experience Real Cartagena for opening up his community to us and providing us with a deep connection to the amazing people of Barrio San Francisco.
  • Bluffworks, one of our newest corporate partners, which covered the costs of three students to take this journey of a lifetime.
  • Allyson and the team from wikiHow, who highlighted us on their platform and sponsored one student on this trip.
  • The International TEFL Academy, for donating 50% of the proceeds from its Teach Abroad Film Festival to FLYTE.
  • Lo & Sons, for matching donations during our wildly successful #GivingTuesday campaign and sharing our story with their audience.
  • Lia from Practical Wanderlust, who paid her own way to join the trip and captured so many incredible photos and videos. She was also the mastermind behind FLYTE’s IG stories during the trip! We love how she was able to document the students’ experience in such an authentic, powerful, and unintrusive way.

Last, but certainly not least, many thanks to the thousands of you that donated to FLYTE. Your generosity over the years has sent 70 students on life-changing journeys abroad. The impact of these trips extends beyond just these youth. Because of you, the wave of positive change will ripple through their communities and the world at large. With them taking the lead, I know without a doubt that our future is bright. Thank you all for making such an immeasurable impact!

As the world builds walls, we’re helping tear them down and showing a new generation that there is more that brings us together than tears us apart.

If you want to learn more about FLYTE and how you can help send more students abroad, click here for more information.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the largest inventory. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I use them all the time.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and that will save you time and money too!

Photo Credit: All photos belong to Lia from Practical Wanderlust who was there helping document the trip!

The post FLYTE Update: Here’s What Happened to the Students We Sent to Colombia appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





Source link

Do You Need Medical Evacuation Insurance?

Posted By : webmaster/ 247 0


A commercial airplane flying in a dark sky
Posted: 8/29/19 | August 29th, 2019

While most budget travelers are content with a standard travel insurance package, today I wanted to talk about one specific aspect that I get asked about a lot: buying extra medical evacuation insurance.

When I first started roaming the world, I assumed that standard travel insurance would cover the cost of getting back home should I get injured abroad. Isn’t that what their “medical evacuation” coverage does?

I was shocked to discover that, more often than not, that isn’t the case.

Turns out, just because you get injured and require medical transportation doesn’t mean you get sent home.

If you read the fine print, most travel insurance companies only cover your medical transport to the “best” medical facility near where you are. This is what they call the “nearest acceptable facility.”

They decide where you go, not you.

They decide what the best facility is.

They decide what is suitable.

And once your travel insurance company sends you to a hospital, they have fulfilled their evacuation obligation to you. That means that if you’re not sent home, you could be liable to then cover the cost of getting home — which can be a lot of money.

Now, this is not to say that “regular” travel insurance is bad. It just means that people think it covers a lot more than it does and are often upset when they find out otherwise. I mean, I love travel insurance (I never leave home without it), but it’s important to know its limitations. Always read the fine print!

This is where comprehensive medical evacuation coverage can come in handy in addition to your existing travel insurance plan.

What is Medical Evacuation Insurance?

First, let’s get one thing clear: Medical evacuation insurance is not the exact same thing as travel insurance (and vice versa).

Of course, travel insurance generally includes medical evacuation insurance, but travel insurance is specifically designed to protect travelers from financial loss in the event of trip interruptions and cancelations, as well as injuries while abroad.

Cut yourself on a rock while hiking? Travel insurance will help.

Baggage lost or delayed after a flight? Travel insurance will help.

Someone pickpocket your phone? Travel insurance will help.

For most travel and medical emergencies, travel insurance will suffice.

But where it often falls short is when you need to be repatriated.

Most travel insurance plans do include decent coverage for medical evacuation — but they only take you to the nearest facility that can handle your emergency. This means:

  • No guarantee of going home
  • No guarantee of going to the absolute best medical facility to assist you
  • No guarantee of someone on the ground to walk you through the process — you’re usually left to handle all of that on your own.

And for some people, that’s not good enough.

Why is Medical Evacuation Insurance So Important?

When I was stabbed in Colombia, I went to a local hospital. I was on my own, left to navigate the process with what little broken Spanish I knew. While I received basic medical care, it was not exactly the best in the world. I flew back to the US shortly after that to get the care I needed.

I was lucky that I didn’t require surgery and that I was able to handle the situation on my own. I didn’t necessarily need medical evacuation insurance for that incident.

But not everyone will be that lucky. Earthquakes, monsoons, hurricanes, floods, and fires do happen — and the list goes on.

Each and every year, 10 million travelers are hospitalized abroad — with over two million requiring medical transportation!
And should you need to be evacuated due to an injury, weather event, or political crisis, you definitely don’t want to be stuck with a pricey repatriation bill. After all, evacuation and transportation aren’t cheap. Costs for a medical evacuation or medical transfer can range from $30,000 to upwards of $200,000.

Yes, you read that right: $200,000!

Unless you have that kind of money lying around, you’ll want to make sure the insurance that you buy covers you for medical evacuation, transportation, transfers, and repatriation. You don’t want to be stranded at a foreign medical facility — especially if that facility doesn’t provide the degree of care that you need.

While these sorts of emergencies are rare, it’s much better to pay a small fee now than to risk going bankrupt because of an unexpected injury. Because $200,000 is a LOT of money!

Just as important as the financial argument for medical evacuation insurance is the fact that having comprehensive coverage gives you peace of mind. You and your loved ones can relax, knowing that, should the worst happen, you have a company there that is ready and able to help you get through it. The last thing you want on your vacation is to be fretting about the fine print on your insurance policy.

Over the past 10 years, I’ve had to deal with all sorts of hiccups on the road, from minor inconveniences, like a broken camera and lost baggage, to more serious situations, like when I burst my eardrum.

Take it from me: peace of mind is worth the price.

That’s why it’s important to be prepared.

That’s why more and more travelers are ensuring they have medical evacuation insurance AND joining medical transport membership programs to ensure they can get all the way to a hospital at home.

Our Recommended Company

Medjet is a membership program that offers comprehensive medical transportation services all around the globe. They have access to hundreds of air ambulances, expert medical transport escorts and staff, 24/7 located all over the world, and if you also have their security coverage, you have 24/7 access to a global network of security and crisis experts for in-country response and evacuation if you need it!

Medjet has the best reputation for medical transport services. They were the first medical transport program in the US and have been doing it for almost 30 years. They specialize in hospital-to-hospital transport, making it the go-to company for travelers concerned about medical evacuation and repatriation. All the travel pros I know use it.

Where most insurance companies will just take you to the nearest medical facility, Medjet will make sure you get to a hospital at home.

Additionally, Medjet:

  • Allows you to choose what home hospital/medical facility you want to go to.
  • Arranges medical transfer regardless of medical necessity (this is where most travel insurance evacuation coverage falls short).
  • Provides service both within the US as well as abroad (any time you’re 150 miles or more from home it works).
  • Does not have any “adventure travel” exclusions like most insurance medical does.
  • Can initiate security response and evacuation even if there is no government warning to do so.

However, it is also extremely affordable — I’m still a budget traveler after all! Medjet offers both short-term and annual plans. An annual membership can cost as little as $295 USD per year, which is amazing value if you’re an avid traveler.

If you’re looking for coverage that goes above and beyond what most companies offer, you’ll want to consider Medjet — especially if you’re concerned about the cost of a medical evacuation.

It’s also the perfect choice for anyone looking to do adventurous activities or travelers who are heading into a region where extreme weather events (such as hurricanes or floods), fires, or earthquakes are common.

***

Nobody likes to imagine something going wrong on their trip. But accidents and emergencies do happen. Make sure you have the evacuation insurance coverage you need on your next trip. You won’t regret it!

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the largest inventory. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I use them all the time.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and that will save you time and money too!

The post Do You Need Medical Evacuation Insurance? appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





Source link