A unique travel program Valley students have participated in and ways you can too.
By Cesia Lopez, Staff Writer
Jaquelin Cane, an 18-year-old Valley College student, just went on her first international trip this summer without spending a single dollar and simultaneously opened a door of global opportunities for her future.
“I realized, ‘I don’t have enough money for this’ — that was a really big issue and what stopped me from going to a four-year university, the money,” said the 4.0 student and newly made MaYA ambassador. “Then when I heard about the Promise Program, I thought ‘this is pretty amazing, I’m going to make a lot of people upset that they went to a 4-year when they could’ve gotten two free years of college and a free trip.”
The studio arts major was one of four students selected to represent Los Angeles on a 10-day trip to Vietnam this past summer. The trip was comprised of 24 students from schools across the Los Angeles Community College District. Activities involved meeting with the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, partnering with Rustic Pathways to work on a community service project near Muong Village and many other “unforgettable” activities while exploring the northern part of the vibrant country.
Cane’s eyes illuminate reminiscently as she describes her experiences ranging from interactions with students from the university in Hanoi to kayaking and swimming through a waterfall in the dreamy Halong Bay. As far as safety, the students were never concerned because with them were always supervisors and local translators who guided them through busy days of planned activity all whilst strongly encouraging hydration.
Mayor Young Ambassador (MaYA) Initiative is LA’s unique and free international travel program established by Mayor Eric Garcetti for Promise community college students to connect with the international community as well as introduce the transformational experience of travel to.
“Through AB-19, students [of all ages] that have not had any post secondary education after graduating from high school qualify for free tuition for the first year here at LAVC under the Promise Program,” said Promise coordinator Cynthia Lopez. “These students are eligible to apply and be considered for the MaYA travel program.”
In 2018, the MaYA program provided 50 students the opportunity to travel to Mexico, Egypt and Japan. In the summer of 2019, they sent another 45 students to Vietnam and France.
The LA mayor’s website lists contributors of the program some being: the Mexican, Egyptian, Japanese and French Consulates in LA, American Airlines, Oneworld Alliance, the Hilton Foundation, the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles and more.
Although the MaYA program is unique to LACCD and Promise programs differ in every city and state that they are offered, the core vision for this project created by the Obama Administration is one of encouraging college attendance and completion without decades of debt following them.
Cane hopes that the possibility of an all-expenses paid, activity-packed international trip will encourage other Promise students and motivate people who have never attempted college to give it a chance.
“I don’t think a lot of people know about the MaYA program.” she explains, “It was a very easy application, you just have to really want it. Traveling and being immersed in a new culture’s song and dance has been life changing.”
Applications for the next two trips to Taiwan and Australia happening in January 2020 are open until September 26. The program appears to be quickly growing as plans for trips in even more semesters arise. If you are interested or know someone who would be a good candidate in joining this program and take part in this opportunity go to lamayor.org/mayor’s-young-ambassador-program to find more information and the application.