[ANNOUNCEMENT] #GoAbroad20for20 Travel Scholarship Winners

by Published

To celebrate 20 years of being in the biz of helping make travel meaningful, GoAbroad is giving away 20 (yes, two-zero!) $500 scholarships to future travelers. After deliberating and considering and going back and forth between the the hundreds of applications — seriously, y’all are inspiring — we settled on this incredible first batch of GoAbroad scholars.

GoAbroad 20for20 Travel Scholarship Winners

Congratulations to our first batch of GoAbroad Scholars!

Without further ado, learn more our 20 travel scholarship winners. Learn their goals, where they’re going, how this scholarship will help them achieve those goals, and what meaningful travel means to them.

1. Hitomi Okada 

Hitomi Okada, scholarship winner

Meet Hitomi Okada

FROM: Denver, Colorado
ADVENTURE: Study abroad in Costa Rica

“Meaningful travel is important to me because it challenges my ‘basic truths’ and allows me to grow into a better version of myself. As a first generation Japanese-American, I was raised in a religious household with Japanese traditions and customs… When I connect with new people and build relationships in a new culture, I find more commonality with them than differences. This brings me closer to the world. I do not see traveling as a way to escape my life, but a way to recreate it in a new lens where I am more open-minded and willing to capture new experiences.”

2. Nghia Hoang Tuan

Nghia Hoang Tuan, scholarship winner

Meet Nghia Hoang Tuan

FROM: Vietnam
ADVENTURE: Volunteer abroad in Taiwan

“Making new friends, experiencing local life and adapting to a new environment when traveling could reinforce divisions and blur the boundaries of nation, race, and gender. As we are living in a complex world that becomes more interconnected but also more fragile at the same time, it is indispensable that connection, collaboration, and communication be fostered to bring people from different geographical, political, religious, linguistic and socio-economic backgrounds together.”

3. Maya Williams

Maya Williams, scholarship winner

Meet Maya Williams

FROM: Riverside, California
GOING: Study abroad in Costa Rica

"My parents have always been exceedingly supportive of my academic endeavors and never cease to provide me with any and all that they can. Unable to further their own, they have taught me to dream big, take risks, and to always reach for my highest potential. As a first-generation student, I have learned the importance of being proactive and holding myself accountable for the decisions that I make… Living in a society that is continuously working towards accepting and embracing all people, I feel it is essential that I am the embodiment of someone who does just that.”

4. Ashley Cabral

Ashley Cabral, scholarship winner

Meet Ashley Cabral

FROM: United States
ADVENTURE: Teach abroad in Thailand

"Being in a country I have never been before, by myself, will force me to learn more myself and force me to grow. These are both things I welcome with open arms. It will help me become more decisive, patient, aware and most importantly, present.”

5. Mina Afnan

Mina Afnan, scholarship winner

Meet Mina Afnan

FROM: United States
ADVENTURE: Study abroad in Thailand

“As a biology major and global health minor, global health care systems have always been of interest to me. Understanding the similarities and differences between different countries’ approaches to medicine and health can help me develop a better lens in which to view my own path in the health field. In a wider perspective, holistic health has also captured my interest and how things like herbal medicine, homeopathy, and acupuncture contribute to both preventative health and treatment of illnesses. Thailand’s system of universal healthcare greatly contrasts with US’s current health care system and provides an amazing learning opportunity to observe and learn the pros and cons of a different system. Thailand also offers a plethora of opportunities for learning in places such as the Integrated Medical Clinic and Ayurveda School located right in Chiang Mai.”

6. Alexandra Oetzell

Alexandra Oetzell, scholarship winner

Meet Alexandra Oetzell

FROM: United States
ADVENTURE: Teach abroad in Thailand

"I make travel meaningful by not only trying new food, but learning how to cook it. Not just reading current events, but asking locals how they feel what’s happening in politics. Not only sightseeing, but going off the beaten track to explore. Meaningful travel to me means getting involved, going to local music events, volunteering time at an orphanage or shelter, or supporting local businesses.”

7. Corey Sutphin

Corey Sutphin, scholarship winner

Meet Corey Sutphin

FROM: United States
ADVENTURE: Study abroad in Scotland

"I want to be a good influence on those I care and I strongly believe this abroad experience will give me the confidence and perspective to be a leader and role model for my community and family. Studying overseas will make me a better person; even though the road has had it's obstacles, I am confident that through hard work and the support of others I will come out of this better equipped to be a good force in this world."

8. Malik Black

Malik Black, scholarship winner

Meet Malik Black

FROM: United States
ADVENTURE: Study abroad in South Africa

“I have thought a lot South Africa's difficult and violent past with apartheid; people like me, who are mixed raced, would have been seen as abominations not too long ago. I am very interested to see how much progress has been made there, as well as connect with the coloured group of people there and get some insight on how they live their lives. Life can get very confusing and messed up when you come from two very different cultures (black and white). Further, this is an especially unique and crazy opportunity for me because I want to be an exotic Zoo Veterinarian. While in Africa, I will be able to see the actual habitats of the animals I will be working very closely with, which to me is very important in understanding how to properly care for an animal far from home.”

9. Margaret (Meghan) Curran

Margaret (Meghan) Curran, scholarship winner

Meet Margaret (Meghan) Curran

FROM: United States
ADVENTURE: Study abroad in Israel

"While in Israel, I want to embrace Angela Davis's concept of feminism: critically examining my own culture and others; learning and connecting seemingly unrelated worldwide conflicts; acquiring skills in mediating, advocating, and educating to help disaggregate the intertwined fear of the other whether race, religion, culture, gender, identity and American identity. To do this, I want to independently conduct ethnographic research among people I meet while abroad. My research will culminate in a photo essay or video series exploring and confronting misconceptions that Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans have one another, particularly in relation to politics.”

10. Elese Chen

Elese Chen, scholarship winner

Meet Elese Chen

FROM: Massachusetts, United States
ADVENTURE: Study abroad in Spain

“I plan to integrate myself in Madrid’s culture and lifestyle by taking advantage of everything that the city and my program has to offer. I will participate in Intercamios, a language exchange program, to help accelerate my Spanish acquisition. I would love to see and learn more Spanish architecture. In addition, I think Spanish music and dance is incredibly beautiful and moving, and I would love to learn more the traditional flamenco dance. Lastly, I am also excited to try the local food in Madrid. I grew up in a largely Hispanic neighborhood and one of my favorite restaurants is Spanish restaurant called Cafe Ole. It will be interesting to see how the dishes compare from back home to the food in Madrid.”

11. Gabrielle Inhofe

Gabrielle Inhofe, scholarship winner

Meet Gabrielle Inhofe

FROM: Tulsa, Oklahoma
ADVENTURE: Interning abroad in Israel

"Meaningful travel encourages cultural diffusion and awareness in a respectful manner; a meaningful traveler does not impose her way of life on others — rather, she shares her home culture while subscribing to the traditions and values of the place she visits. She leaves no trace behind — except a good impression. She goes ahead and eats the mysterious meat, befriends the locals, volunteers, and tries out her language skills… I will be working at a human rights agency aimed at mediating the peace conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. I plan to engage people on all sides of the debate with an open mind, attentive listening, and respect for their varying worldviews.”

12. Kevin Seng

Kevin Seng, scholarship winner

Meet Kevin Seng

FROM: San Francisco, California
ADVENTURE: Studying abroad in Spain

"There is not a day that goes by where I forget what my parents did in providing my two brothers and me the opportunity of having a wonderful childhood. As teens themselves, my parents were Cambodian refugees who had to sacrifice their education in order to provide for their families. Growing up, my parents wanted my brothers and I to assimilate American Culture. They didn’t speak Khmer to us or make us practice the religion in the hopes that we would be more comfortable with American students. As I got older, I learned a lot more my culture and was extremely fascinated by it. In college, as a student of color, I explored various multicultural shows and tackled questions on ethnicity and culture with many of my friends. Looking back, I wished my parents taught me Khmer culture sooner because it acts as a way to preserve history and provides me a place where I feel I belong. I am excited to have the opportunity to assimilate to a third culture.”

13. Briea Newman

Briea Newman, scholarship winner

Meet Briea Newman

FROM: United States
ADVENTURE: Teaching abroad in Myanmar

"During undergrad, no matter how awful I thought the subject was, if the teacher was passionate the information and engaged in and cared for his or her students, I was anxious to learn. I hope to be like those inspirational professors that I had in college. I want to excite the students in Myanmar to be passionate what they do in life, to be eager to learn and succeed, and to get involved in the classroom and within the community.”

14. Elizabeth Reed

Elizabeth Reed, scholarship winner

Meet Elizabeth Reed

FROM: United States
ADVENTURE: Studying abroad in Spain

"After spending my senior year of high school volunteering with Spanish-speaking ESL students, I made it a life goal to become fluent in Spanish. I’m studying abroad in Madrid, Spain in order to reach that goal and to understand a culture that is different from my own through full immersion. Meaningful travel means traveling with a goal that is important to you but also understanding that the journey to reach that goal might be different than you expect. I cannot wait to take classes, start my internship, explore Spain, and meet new people. Estoy muy emocionada y no puedo esperar!”

15. Theresa Menna

Theresa Menna, scholarship winner

Meet Theresa Menna

FROM: United States
ADVENTURE: Teaching abroad in China

"My first trip to China was meaningful to me because I had gotten a small glimpse into the power of working together across boundaries, but the trip was short — two weeks is not nearly enough time to truly get to know a place. Hence, I am taking my budding interest in travel and my curiosity Chinese culture and returning to the country. Only this time, I will be there for over ten months, as an ESL teacher. What makes this traveling experience unique and meaningful to me is that the cultural engagement will not only be one-way. While I will learn a great deal from my Chinese colleagues and students, I will also be responsible for introducing them to American culture and helping them to develop their own English language skills.”

16. Trent Lawrence

Trent Lawrence, scholarship winner

Meet Trent Lawrence

FROM: United States
ADVENTURE: Getting a masters degree in China

"After spending two life-changing years teaching English in Shenzhen and exploring the dynamics of Asia, I became more conscious of the term ‘global citizenship’ and its significance in helping to build my awareness around international relations and meaningful travel. As an African American, I exposed my students to a unique viewpoint that allowed them to overcome cross-cultural misperceptions, and in return, I was able to craft my own understanding of China. It was in this experience that my passion and love for global affairs was further ignited. With this graduate degree, I will increase my grasp on the China’s geopolitical impact on surrounding Asian nations by analyzing its global influence as an economic, cultural, and educational powerhouse. Additionally, I intend to establish a bridge that further links the U.S. and the institution with the goal of introducing more talent and exposing prospects to the rewards of a globally focused education.”

17. Deanna Leung

Deanna Leung, scholarship winner

Meet Deanna Leung

FROM: United States
ADVENTURE: Studying abroad in Spain

"Communication is key. Miscommunication breeds misunderstanding and disharmony. How can we take steps to not only communicate for the sake of getting a point across, but communicating to connect? Often, when we communicate for an information transfer, we do not look to understand how the other person may absorb and process the information. Different cultures have different facial cues, intonation, body gestures, and interpretation of words. This is why meaningful travel is so important to me. When we take the time to appreciate the differences of others and make a conscious effort to learn their culture, communicating no longer just becomes words, but a connection of words and feelings that create meaningful friendships and experiences.”

18. Morgan McCullough

Morgan McCullough, scholarship winner

Meet Morgan McCullough

FROM: Michigan, United States
ADVENTURE: Studying abroad in Morocco

"My fascination with the non-Western World began a decade post-9/11 during a semester abroad in Galicia, Spain while listening to my host sister tell me a time in Medieval Spain when followers of Catholicism, Judaism, and Islam lived in peace and prosperity for eight centuries. Wide-eyed, the questions poured out of my mouth as I tried to imagine a corner of the world without the religious turmoil that I was so accustomed to in the United States. Stories turned into weekend visits to centuries-old mosques and a trip to Southern Spain, where I stood on top of an old Roman castle and strained to see the ocean that would connect to Morocco. I was told that people would often swim from the top of Africa to Málaga to sell handmade goods, and that was when I first interacted with the Arabic language…”

19. Swellar Zhuo

Swellar Zhuo, scholarship winner

Meet Swellar Zhuo

FROM: New York City, New York
ADVENTURE: Studying abroad in Ireland

"What keeps me up at night? Videos, I watch vlogs and documentaries of people traveling.Through the lens of these video creators, I transport from my bedroom to the salt deserts in Utah to under the starry night in Chile. I am compelled. Then I become obsessed with the possibility of travel and I click on more videos. And as the city falls asleep, I lie awake... I know I want to travel and experience first-hand of what lies outside of my neighborhood.”

20. Katrina Galloway

Katrina Galloway, scholarship winner

Meet Katrina Galloway

FROM: United States
ADVENTURE: Studying abroad in England

"A belief I hold true to my heart is that traveling truly creates an individual because through embracing a new culture and living in someone else’s shoes, it opens the travelers mind to new ways of living that are unfamiliar to them. Meaningful travel allows the individual to understand where someone else comes from and it allows the people to connect on another level because they can relate and understand one another. Being abroad in London, and not having my family and friends close to home will let me get away and be immersed in different living situations, and societal beliefs as opposed to the ones I have grown up around my whole life.”

Congratulations to all travel scholarship winners!

Thank you for your inspirational words and the intentions behind your upcoming adventures. It is our hope that you uphold these values and infuse your trip abroad with the mindset of a meaningful traveler.

Wanna know when our next scholarship is announced? Sign up here!