Taking FLYTE: How Nomadic Matt is Helping High School Students See the World

Since moving back to the states, I’ve met many people who have never traveled overseas. There are plenty of reasons for this; some people have no interest, some people don’t see it as a priority and for some people it’s not financially possible.

I totally get it- with our meager two weeks of vacation a year, international travel isn’t easy. But I truly think the U.S. as a whole would benefit if our citizens traveled more.

Which is why I’m very excited to share my interview with Nomadic Matt, who just started FLYTE, the Foundation for Learning and Youth Travel Education. FLYTE’s mission is to help high school kids in underserved American communities travel overseas.

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When Matt asked if I could spread the word about FLYTE, I said yes in a heartbeat as I think travel at a young age is extremely important. So far Matt has raised more than $8,000 and needs more donations- I’ve personally donated as this is a cause I strongly believe in.

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So when did you think of the idea to start FLYTE?

About last year. I’d been kind of ruminating it for a while and fully thought of it for a long time. I wanted a way to give back to people. So I finally decided to do it this year after reading Richard Branson’s autobiography.

Why do you think it’s important for young people to travel?

At such an impressionable age they can learn so much about the world and be exposed to idea that they otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to in their own small community. They can get a sense that the world is bigger on a firsthand level and they can exposed to people, ideas and culture that can really change their thinking and show them that it’s a big world out there; there’s a lot of opportunity. And to break out of that mindset that there’s only my little space.

 

Yeah definitely. And so how do you think being exposed to international travel will help them in their academic and professional careers?

Being at such a young age there’s still a long life to live and everybody changes. But by being exposed to ideas it could give them different ideas as to what they want to do with their own lives that could have a positive impact. A friend of mine’s kids went traveling when they were younger and now they do a lot of volunteer and development work after seeing a lot of poverty overseas.

So is this going to have an immediate impact for a sixteen-year old? Probably not, because their career is a long way off. But this going to help them figure out what they want to do and what they want to study and where they want to go in their lives.

So who will be considered eligible for FLYTE?

We’re looking to support schools in rural or economically depressed urban communities. We’re still working out our guidelines but they’ll have to meet certain economic criteria in terms of are they on special assistance, is their community considered impoverished or do they live in some place that’s one person per million miles or something like that. We’re looking to reach the people who are not normally reached.

So who will be leading the trips?

We will be providing assistance and travel planning but they will be lead by the teachers and the chaperones from those kids’ schools.

Oh okay, so you won’t be on the trips?

No. Our goal is to not run a tour company. We provide the funding and the logistical expertise to make the trip happen.

Interesting. So do you have any idea of where you want the kids to go first, or will they choose? How does that work?

The teachers will submit a proposal and they will be allowed to pick wherever they want to go so long as it meets an educational criteria.

In the beginning we’ll try to send people to “safe” destinations so we can build a track record. We probably won’t send kids to Azerbaijan right away. But at the end of the day we leave it up to the school. So long as it meets the criteria and there’s a purpose. We don’t want to only send kids to Italy right; we want the place to match what they’re learning in school. If they want to take kids to Japan? So be it. If they want to take kids to Nicaragua? So be it.

Cool. How do you hope this program will affect us on a more national level? What do you hope this promotes as a message?

We want to promote not only that more people should travel but also that more kids should travel and there should be more funding to create a more international perspective in schools when the world is so globalized. We’re all part of a global economy now so it’s very important for people to have a broader perspective.

That makes sense. I personally find the attitude that travel is only for the rich and that it’s a luxury very prevalent in the states. And they don’t see that you can do it cheaply, and that if you make it a priority it’s something you can achieve- well, at least for most people. So I think that would be a good message too.

Right and if you get kids hooked on that when they’re young they’re going to carry that idea throughout their whole life and slowly change the prevailing opinion.

And back to you guys. Do you think it’s important for high schoolers to travel abroad?

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

5 thoughts on “Taking FLYTE: How Nomadic Matt is Helping High School Students See the World”

  1. I absolutely think it’s important for high schoolers to travel. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel with a tour company when I was in grade 12. It specialized in World War II so I got to see a lot of war sites and battle grounds (along with some tourist areas). It definitely opened my eyes to new cultures and experiences that I learned from. I think FLYTE is a great idea and I hope many kids get to benefit from it. The tour company I went with was education based, which was fine, but it was also very expensive and it was sad to see students who had to pull out of the trip due to costs (even though we had to fundraise so the teacher’s could go for free).

  2. Wohoo, go Matt! What a great program to initiate, it is definitely needed. Travel helps people to not only understand the world, but themselves too. Thanks for sharing :)

  3. Sounds like such a great foundation, travel can teach you so much and it’s so important to see some different perspectives on life. What you mentioned about the perception that travel is for the rich reminded me of this episode of Wife Swap (or Trading Spouses, one of those) I saw that I’ll never forget. One of the families was a lower-income family and the woman that stayed with them used some of the money to pay for the couple to go to Rome and the recipient was freaking out, really mad to have been given this. She was saying ‘Why would I go to Rome? Rome is not for us’ which I thought was so sad, they would never consider travel as an option for them as they had such a perception that travel was for the wealthy.

  4. Great Posts, It is really helpful news to shared the more travellers in taking Flyte for Nomadic Matt is helping information for the students see the World wide destination. This is awesome foundation for Learning to get mine’s kids and Youth Travel Education for sharing in online blogger.

  5. Traveling broadens one’s horizons. It provides understandings of different cultures, and even a development of beauty, and an appreciation of
    differences. I definitely think travel at any age is good.

    Love,

    Gamma

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