So, your child has been studying a language for years now. She dreams of traveling abroad and becoming immersed in the sights and sounds that accompany the language she’s been studying. Now that she has the key to open global doors, you want to do everything you can to help her get to her next destination.
Back when you were in high school, travel abroad was mostly a college thing, a rite of passage of sorts into adulthood. Not so anymore. The world our children live in is much more connected. This generation of children has the world at their fingertips, literally. For them, it’s not enough to hear about it and see it on their screen. They want to live it, to experience it first-hand.
And yet, we know that travel abroad can be expensive. So, here are a few suggestions to help you and your child make her globe-trotting wishes come true.
- Apply for travel scholarships and grants- There are non-profit organizations that offer travel abroad grants that can make affording your experience abroad attainable. Although you can search online and will find various agencies that can help fund your travel, I recommend contacting SYTA Youth Foundation (http://sytayouthfoundation.org/roads#). It is the non-profit, philanthropic sister organization of the Student & Youth Travel Association. Their "Road" Scholarship program awards funds to youth who, for different reasons, are unable to afford the cost of their group's travel.
- Establish a fund-raising web page – Have your student put their persuasive writing and entrepreneurial skills to work! There are many free web page generators for fund raising out there. I recommend Fundmytravel.com (https://www.fundmytravel.com/) because their focus is to help people build fund raising campaigns to fund meaningful travel experiences specifically.
- Go Social! – Build a free Facebook page to go hand-in-hand with your fund raising efforts! Post updates on how close you are coming to your goal, share pictures, and keep your potential donors informed. Communication goes a long way when it comes to raising money for a good cause. Once you reach your destination, you can continue to use the page to share your experience on real time with your supporters!
- Engage your local community and friends – I believe in the power of old-school communication. Reach out to your home community, church members, clubs, and organizations you are involved with. Draft a poignant letter requesting donations and share it with your community members. Hand-written notes delivered in-person make a difference. Follow-up your letter with a personal phone call and a thank you note. Taking the time to write and call potential contributors goes a long way, it shows you care as much for them as you value their financial support!
- Engage local businesses – Many local and chain restaurants offer fund raising nights for clubs and organizations. Call your local restaurants or go online to find out if they offer this service. Dining-out nights are usually quite profitable and depending on the restaurant your group can receive anywhere from 10-20 percent of the night sales.
Remember, travel abroad, as well as language acquisition, is attainable for all. Have fun engaging in creative ways to raise the funds you need to get your students abroad. After all, this sort of fund raising presents a great opportunity for your child to put into practice much more than the foreign language they’re learning. It’s an opportunity to hone in on entrepreneurial, communication, and social skills with language acquisition as a vehicle and objective.