Giving back: The Passport Party Project

BY ONEIKA RAYMOND

I’m thrilled to once again be involved in The Passport Party Project, a National Geographic award-winning initiative providing first passports, first-time international travel experiences, and global awareness training to underserved American girls aged 11-15!

The project, now in its third phase, was spearheaded by impassioned activist and entrepreneur Tracey Friley, who recognized the importance of instilling the value of international travel in young girls who may not have otherwise had the opportunity to journey far and wide. 

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In Phase 1 of the program, 100 underserved girls were given their first passports over the course of an 18-month nation-wide campaign.  The initiative culminated in a trip to Belize in July 2013, where 6 passport recipients had the opportunity to receive their first passport stamp and give back to the local community by volunteering at Liberty Children’s Home

After admiring from afar, I was delighted to play a small role in Phase 2 of the program the following year, becoming one of 20 advisor-mentors.  I was extremely proud to support this stage of the initiative, not least because that year’s group of selected girls obtained their first passport stamps and international experience in Toronto, my hometown! #ProudCanadian

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Fast forward to 2016, the third (and hopefully best!) phase of the Passport Party Project.  I’m thrilled to be taking an even more active role as a mentor this year; I have been paired with an exuberant young lady by the name of Aliana and will be assisting her in applying for her first passport, readying her for her first international trip, and helping her to become a better global citizen overall. After many years criss-crossing the world and experiencing all its pleasures, I am excited to foster a passion for travel and exploration in someone who is so young and impressionable. I am also excited for the girls’ inaugural international jaunt–  the Passport Party Project will be returning to Toronto this summer!

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Of course, none of this would be possible without Tracey and our generous sponsors (Porter Airlines, Niagara ParksNational Geographic MapsHEYS , Hornblower Niagara Cruises, Francesco’s Limousine, CityPASS, and Tourism Toronto),  who are working hard to create an experience that will not only be worthwhile, but memorable and magical. Here’s hoping that this first journey abroad will spark wanderlust that’ll last long after the trip’s over.

SHARING IS CARING

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53 Comments

  • WOW, I would love to be a part of a project like this… Will they have a phase 4? If so will they be looking mentors?

    Reply
  • Such an amazing initiative, Oneika!

    Although I’m a firm believer that you don’t always have to travel far and wide in order to expand your mind (staycation – yeah!), but the ways international travel can broaden your horizon and deepen your understanding for yourself and others is incredible. It’s so important to learn as much as we can about the world, and travel is a great first step 😀 Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  • These girls are so sweet. I have been hearing about this project for awhile now. Happy to hear that you are involved in it. Love the work that you all are doing. I didn’t get my first passport until I was 21. Next payday I’ll totally be donating to this. .

    Reply
  • Didn’t know you were Canadian. I’m sure that makes you super proud that the girls will get to experience your country. I’m proud to be a mentor this year as well. It’s been a rewarding ride! Power to the passport!

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