Photo by Trevor Dickerson.
If you’re a young person who’s got a case of wanderlust that’s a bit larger than your bank account, a new program from Richmond’s first hostel could quite literally be your ticket to new and exciting experiences abroad.
The HI Richmond Hostel is offering four $2,000 travel scholarships to young people in Richmond between 18 and 30 interested in traveling abroad but lacking the financial means to do so. It’s all an effort to encourage young folks to explore the world we share and learn about another culture.
“HIUSA (the parent organization of the Richmond hostel) piloted the program last year in a couple of our major hostels where we were trying to help would-be travelers gain access to new experiences outside of the country,” said Katie Zacherle, Director of Development with HI Richmond Hostel. “It was such a big success that we were able to launch it in some of our smaller markets. Richmond was one of those selected.”
The requirements are fairly simple and straightforward. If you fall within the age range, all you need to do is fill out a short online application and describe your plans to travel in the next 18 months should you be awarded the money. Applicant names will be scrubbed and entries will be turned over to HIUSA for consideration by a group of six volunteers, who will score each based on a defined metric. Those rated the highest will be selected.
The organization encourages itineraries to include a service or educational component-this could be a school trip, a personal goal of more fully understanding another culture or group of people, a trip with a volunteer organization such as Habitat for Humanity, or pretty much anything else you can dream up.
The program is open to anyone-not just students-and the money can be used for almost anything related to the trip with no restrictions. “One (scholarship) was awarded to a young man going abroad; he used the money to purchase new computer to process photographs from the trip,” Zacherle said. $1,000 is awarded up front to help with expenses ahead of time, then the remaining $1,000 is distributed upon return.
The organization strongly encourages recipients to share their experiences traveling the world with the hosteling community upon return to allow others to share those experiences vicariously and consider taking a trip themselves, Zacherle said. Other than that, there really is no catch to using the funds to travel the globe. “We’re really hoping those who are able to travel through these scholarships are able to bring an expanded worldview back to richmond so they can be more understanding, compassionate, and a more invested community member.”
Applications for the funding are open until May 15th. Zacherle says if HI Richmond sees a strong applicant response this year, an additional number of scholarship slots will be available during the application period in 2017.