Local Inspiring Minds students from Youngstown and Warren made history as the organization’s first group to embark on an international trip.
The group of 20 was able to travel to El Salvador on an exposure trip from May 28 – June 2.
Students were able to explore the culture by trying new foods, learning Spanish, visiting international universities, interacting with the locals and more.
“I think introducing young people to different cultures is so important,” said Deryck Toles, IM Founder and CEO. “We teach our kids to appreciate and embrace their heritage, but understanding other cultures is critical in creating well-rounded, empathetic adults.”
For many students, this was their first time being on a plane or their first time leaving the country.
“It opened my eyes because I really noticed how people can come together and make something out of nothing,” said 12-year-old Nadia Simms, “and maybe more people can do that here and not take the things we have for granted.”
“First, we need to find the people who are suffering and offer them assistance, make them feel welcome, make them feel like they’re important, and there’s a reason they’re here,” said 17-year-old and 2018 high school graduate, Danajah Coleman.
While in El Salvador, students were able to interact with multiple women-led projects fighting for basic human rights like clean water, food, education, and quality of life. They heard their stories, witnessed their daily struggles and participated in some activities to better understand their way of life.
“I think after this trip I’m going to be less selfish and more giving,” said 18 year-old and 2018 high school graduate, Richard Downing. “When I give I give a little, but when they give they give a lot, they gave us their last. It inspired me to be a better person.”
The organization partnered with IPM (International Partners in Mission) who has been conducting international immersion trips around the world for over 40 years.
Part of the trip was funded by a grant from The Raymond John Wean Foundation and the rest of the funds were raised through donations and fundraisers. One major donor was Bill Siderewicz, President of Clean Energy Future, LLC.
The organization is looking forward to taking more international trips in the future to different cultures.