For Immediate Release: August 21st, 2015
First of It’s Kind Cultural Exchange Between American and Indian Youth
New York– 10 teenagers representing diverse communities around America returned today from a 3 week study and leadership trip to India. The first of its kind, The 360+ Leadership Collective, a partnership with Voygr.com, is an international trip that opens access to intercultural learning and global citizenship to American communities that are underrepresented by the US global presence due to social and financial restrictions on travel. This project aims to change the way the world views America, by exposing other cultures to America’s diverse alternative narratives (such as those from of African Americans, Native Americans, Latino Americans, transgendered Americans, etc.)
Participants were selected as young people with high potential for leadership from a variety of communities around the country. They are returning home, taking with them skills and a global perspective that will enable them to better create solutions in their own communities. As similarly quoted in DNA, a newspaper in in India, 360+ Team Member and Voygr.com COO Elijah Monroe said, “We want to expose them to solutions. How Gandhi used non-cooperation, how that influenced the American civil rights movements, and what else is being done in India to uplift people and how that can apply to America.”
Many of the participants were traveling for the first time, and come from communities that are underrepresented in study trips that usually require a fee of up to 15 thousand dollars for 3 weeks. This trip to India was fully-funded, and even the pre-departure costs such as passports, visas, and vaccines were covered by donors, allowing these teenagers to likely be the first in their families and neighborhoods to travel to somewhere like India. The group consisted of students from Chicago, Baltimore, Jacksonville, The Bay Area, and rural Northern California. They were African American, Latino, Native American, and Caucasian, – intentionally chosen to represent American diversity.
Through the ongoing support of the roughly 360 international development professionals that compose the 360+ Network, these students have the opportunity to become part of a unique civic-minded international network that crosses the resistant boundaries of race and socioeconomic status. This network will support the students’ efforts to promote global awareness in their own communities as well as providing them with a variety of resources through the next steps of higher education and career.
This project is a charitable effort that displays an emerging trend in philanthropy, in which the people providing the money aren’t simple donors, but active participants in the ideation, execution, and sustainability of the model. On this trip, the primary financier created the idea and accompanied the group. In the future, 360+ is offering donors the opportunity specifically sponsor students based on their demographic, interest area, and location.
Here is an overview of the 360+ Leadership Collective, a partnership with Voygr.com.
Here the group is featured in DNA during the Ahmedabad leg of the trip.
Here is the 360+ Leadership Collective Blog, featuring a thorough summary from the man behind the trip, Sridar Iyengar.
Here is the 360+ Leadership Collective Instagram.
Here is the group on the news in Ahmedabad.
Some quotes from students:
“I am a stronger, wiser, better young lady. This trip definitely changed my life.”
– Arianna “Yanna” Roberts (17)
“This trip has helped me overcome my fear of being vulnerable. At first I was afraid of being vulnerable because where I am from, vulnerability is weakness. I was able to overcome this by growing and learning to trust my 360+ family. This experience has been a transformative process that will help me be a better and more well-rounded person.”
– Jeremiah “Andre” Garland (17)
“At the village they greeted us with open arms. The people in the village were more neighborly. Everyone was very close. Before going, I expected the village to be less modern. It wasn’t that it was less modern, but maybe just slower and more together.”
– Selena Campos (17) Talking about our trip to the village Sherisa in Gujarat.
Redwood Valley, California
“My mom is a single parent of nine. We don’t have money to pay for college tuition. I was thinking that this would give me a push and an edge when I apply to college and try to get financial aid. When they are looking at my application and they see someone else and one person has gone to India they are going to see that I am doing something different. I am not just playing sports or doing community service; but I am putting myself out there. That’s what gave me the motivation to apply; but this trip turned out to be much more than I imagined.”
– Leonor Garcia (17)
At Rishi Valley I lived the life of an adventurer, a student, a cartoon character, a farmer, and a teacher. I climbed a mountain with a friend, walked dark roads with flashlights in a group, went to classes with Rishi Valley students, got hit in the head with a coconut that fell from a tree, helped farmers turn homemade fertilizer, milked a cow, and taught others how to dance.
– Kyre Smith