The Blue Ribbon Youth Leadership Institute took its second international trip to Costa Rica in 2013. The nine-day journey included 23 students, most of whom had never been out of the country before and some who had never even been on a plane. As the group crisscrossed the country they:
- went zip-lining in a rainforest,
- were accosted by whiteface monkeys,
- fed crocodiles,
- stood on the lip of a volcano,
- and relaxed on a sandy beach
Reflecting on the final night, everyone agreed that the highlight of the trip had been a service project at a rural elementary school. The school had fewer than 20 students, some of whom walked or rode horses for up to two hours to and from school each day. Everyone walked away with a little more appreciation for the educational opportunities that are so easily available to us in the United States.
Students of the Youth Leadership Institute are used to doing all types of service projects all across the United States. This time, they went a step further: all the way to Ghana, Africa. Fifteen students traveled to Ghana in 2007 and had the opportunity to make a difference on the other side of the world. They not only participated in service activities, but they had the opportunity to learn and explore the traditions and historical aspects of the country.