In Conversation: Kiki Smith
Earlier this year, we announced our latest FLYTE partnership, with the Victor School from rural Montana. Our goal was to send a group of its high school students to Guatemala for a week and a half of learning, service, and travel.Quick side note: If you’re new to this website, FLYTE (Foundation for Learning and Youth Travel Education) is the nonprofit foundation we created just over 3 years ago to send high school classes on educational and service trips overseas. Our mission at FLYTE is to empower students through transformative travel experiences.
We know the power of travel can change you – and so do the teachers we partner with. Unfortunately, lots of schools just don’t have the resources and funding to send classes overseas. That’s where FLYTE comes in. We serve underserved communities around the United States that don’t have the resources to send their students on class trips abroad. So far we have sent entire classes to Mexico, Ecuador, and Cuba.
I think every band is a little cautious when the drummer starts to write tunes.
And with your help, we did it again. We raised over $18,000 to help these students go on their school trip to Guatemala!
The students, the school, the parents, me we all thank you for being part of this! In late June, they landed back in Montana, so today I wanted to give you an update on their trip so you know where your help went.
Remember, Victor School is located in the small rural town of Victor, Montana that serves a total student population of 300 where 100% of the students receive free or reduced-price school lunch. The poverty rate is high in this community and many families struggle to make ends meet. Their teacher Lindsey was excited to partner with us to make sure her students had the opportunity to see a part of the world they’d never gotten to see before.After three flights and nearly 20 hours of travel, the kids made it to Guatemala. For most, this was their first time leaving the United States, visiting a developing country, being in a place where the culture and language are starkly different than that of their hometown, and for some, it was their first time out of Montana!
FLYTE trips are not just vacations for teens. The itineraries are crafted to include various forms of learning, teaching, adventuring, interacting with local communities, and participating in activities that push themselves out of their comfort zones.The students spent the first part of their trip in the city of Antigua, where they took Spanish lessons (which brought their language studies from Montana to life) and climbed the Pacaya volcano.
That adventure impacted the students and what they thought they were capable of so much that they stopped on their way down and journaled to document their exhilaration and acknowledge themselves for what they had accomplished.On the shores of Lake Atitlán, they experienced living communally. Part of their service learning took place at the Amigos de Santa Cruz, a local NGO, where they made authentic Mayan cuisine, learned about vocational training programs, and donated books they collected in Montana for the NGO’s preschool library. They also spent an afternoon connecting, playing soccer and hacky sack with the neighborhood kids.They spent time volunteering with Konojel, a nonprofit whose mission is to reduce chronic malnutrition and endemic poverty. They helped out at the community center where undernourished children receive healthy meals and educational enrichment.