A group of local high school students will have the opportunity of a lifetime next summer.
The students, ages 15-17, will be traveling abroad on an educational international adventure. Students were selected based on their character and on traits such as honesty, integrity, concern for others, respect and pursuit of excellence. In June of 2018, 35 students will journey to Costa Rica. The next month, 45 students will tour Italy.
“By traveling abroad, the goal is for these students to step outside of their comfort zones and grow as individuals,” Katie Ann Prescott, group leader, said. “Many of these students have never been out of Austin or Leander. Stretching themselves out of their comfort zones will allow them to reach beyond what they thought they were capable of.”
While abroad, the students will be required to interact with locals by asking for directions, ordering food and purchasing local items.
“They are also thrust into a completely
different culture that asks them to look beyond what they are familiar with and see ‘different’ as a positive thing,” Prescott said. “When we travel, they view themselves as ‘ambassadors’ of our great nation, the U.S., and they make a concerted effort to show the world that America is filled with kind, friendly, tolerant and respectful citizens.”
These students are paying for this educational trip out of their own pockets.
“Many are sacrificing Christmas and birthday gifts, and instead, asking for parents and family members to pay towards their trip, but they need more support in order to pay the trip in full,” Prescott said.
In order for the students to have additional opportunities to save money for the trip, Prescott is reaching out to the community to have them give students odd jobs to complete for extra cash.
“Our students are willing to work to raise money for their trip, but we just need opportunities,” she said. “If there is a big event an organization is hosting, my group would be more than happy to support in any way possible.”
This isn’t the first time Prescott has led student travel groups over international waters. She had a group of students tour Italy in the past, and has also taken students to England and Ireland. This summer, the teenagers are venturing out to Germany. Next year is the first year she is doing two summer tours.
“The Italy trip is $4,000 and the Costa Rica trip is $2,200,” she said. “The Costa Rica trip is more cost effective, which was great to have that option, but we made another trip because the Italy one filled up in less than 24 hours.”
In Costa Rica, students will see San Jose, Arenal Region, Monteverde and the Central Pacific Coast.
“From exploring a variety of natural wonders in the rainforest to participating in local folklore traditions, students will gain an authentic understanding of Costa Rican culture and discover its beauty,” Prescott said.
In Italy, students will experience an intimate connection with the culture.
“Some of the magical experiences include hiking the cliffs of the Cinque Terre region, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, riding a gondola through the canals of Venice while their gondolier serenades them, examining notable artwork and architecture from hundreds of years ago, bicycling through the city streets of Lucca and cruising along Lake Como surrounded by the beauty of the Swiss Alps,” Prescott said.
Prescott said from the minute they get off the plane it’s “go-go-go.”
“My motto is ‘you sleep when you’re done,’” she said.
At this point, she thinks the most successful journey she led was to Ireland.
“Everything was within walking distance,” Prescott said. “The people there are so friendly and amazing.”
Anyone in the community who thinks they have work to help the students get funded can contact Prescott at 512-484-4042 or email@example.com.