Explore the World Scholarship Testimonials

2015 Testimonials

Check out what last year's Explore the World Travel Scholarship recipients had to say about their life-changing travel experiences:

John Brundrett - Houston

“I fell in love with Tanzania when I visited. The entire experience helped solidify how I want to move forward with my career.”

John Brundrett is an aspiring African historian, and the Explore the World scholarship allowed him to travel outside the US for the first time. His career ambitions led him to Tanzania to study at the University of Dar es Salaam, where he took 2 courses to learn more about East African history.

John standing by palm tree John with Tanzanian natives John in Tanzania

Photos of John in Tanzania

Amelia Menton - Chicago

“This trip to India truly changed my life. This trip not only made me feel more connected to humanity, it also taught me so much about who I want to be as a social worker and as a person trying to make change in the US.”

Amelia Menton is a graduate student at the University of Chicago, studying social work. She traveled to Mumbai, India, where she conducted research about equitable work environments by interviewing garbage collectors in the city about their working conditions.

Amelia with henna on hands Amelia at dinner table with Mumbai family

Photos of Amelia in Mumbai

Diana Ventura - Austin

“Volunteering with such a poor community in Peru satisfied my heart in a way that I can't express with words – it is a feeling. As someone who sincerely cares for the well-being of others, there is no price in giving to those less fortunate, especially when it comes to knowledge.”

Diana Ventura is a middle school art teacher and traveled to Peru, where she volunteered with the Light and Leadership Initiative (LLI). With LLI she taught reading, assisted with homework, staffed the teen center, and led art workshops for children and women. Part of her work with the women was teaching them to make crafts they could later sell in the markets to earn income. Diana, who is an avid dancer, also took Salsa and Zouk dance lessons as she continued her travels into Colombia and Brazil.

Diana teaching children art lessons Diana with art students

Photos of Diana volunteering at a school in Peru

Blair Brettschneider - Chicago

Not having traveled alone internationally before, this trip taught me that I can do it! I realized that I am good at it and can be pretty resourceful when I need to be, which makes me feel I could travel to other faraway places on my own.

After spending the last 5 years doing work to empower refugee girls in Chicago through the nonprofit she founded, GirlForward, Blair was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to travel to Rwanda through HI USA. For 3 weeks, Blair explored Rwanda's history and culture, including connecting with GirlForward Rwanda and learning about their work to empower girls throughout the country. Blair is also a former CNN Hero.

Blair photographed with giraffe Blair with gorilla Blair with teenage women from Rwanda

Photos of Blair Brettschneider in Rwanda

Alia Pederson - Austin

The time I spent in Russia gave me the tools to study science in Russian. I am actively moving towards developing a Russian language-in-context seminar in the sciences, which will be open to all interested, culturally-conscious scientists.

Alia Pederson is a college student at the University of Texas Austin and spent 6 months studying at Moscow State University in the Department of Neuroscience. She was able to enroll as a typical Russian student, taking major-level cell biology, physiology, and organic chemistry in the native language. In addition to school, Alia traveled throughout the country taking a 78-hour Trans-Siberian train through southern Russia.

Alia boarding train to Russia Alia standing in snow

Photos of Alia in Russia