Newark high school students selected for London trip. Now, organizer looks to rally Newarkers to get the group across the pond

This summer, Newark native and travel consultant Madeline Boughton announced that she’d be launching an application for six Newark high school students to travel to London for an “immersive learning excursion”, a campaign she hopes will turn the students into global citizens and lifelong travelers. As part of her Newark-based Traveling Mad consultancy, Boughton extols the benefits of international travel to youth in and around Newark.

Boughton has now selected the six high school students and kicked off the fundraising phase of her initiative. On Tuesday, she hosted a benefit reception at Newark’s Studio58 in honor of the six students. But Boughton says the vast majority of the $25,000 needed to fund the trip will come from donations from Newarkers themselves, who she hopes to marshal through her recently launched Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign.

The six selected students are Amanda Dominguez and Karla Perez Estrella from Barringer STEAM, Adrian Morquecho and Joshua Skillern from Technology High School, Brianna Wilson from Shabazz High School, and Tamaj Nicholson from North 13th Street Tech. As a group, the students boast a litany of honors and recognition for academics and extracurricular activities. Among them is a National Honor Society member, Rutgers Future Scholar, NJIT Upward Bound student, a poet, an avid skateboarder and BMX biker, and a number of student government leaders and student-athletes.

In the campaign video, which features the selected students themselves, Boughton says, “When I was in high school, I wish I was given an opportunity such as this, but no one spoke to me about studying abroad,” and later adds that while she is “not the first Newarker who has traveled abroad,” the goal of the trip is to make sure more young Newarkers can do the same.

group selfie

Madeline Boughton poses with four of the six Newark high school students selected for the London trip.

Dean and Director of Operations at England’s Wroxton College, where the students will be staying for the first leg of their trip, voiced over a section of the video, saying, “I’m delighted [Boughton] created this trip to give such a great opportunity to high school students from Newark. I very much look forward to having Madeline and her group here at Wroxton.”

Boughton has partnered with the Mayor’s Office of International Relations and Diaspora Affairs (MOIRDA), the Believe in Newark Foundation, Newark Social, and EMQ Networks on the project. Deputy mayor of MOIRDA Ugo Nwaokoro said the trip “is in line with Mayor Ras J. Baraka’s vision of exposing Newark youth to other cultures and countries.”

A list of the activities included in the trip is below. The crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the trip closes on December 1.

Total cost for 8 people, 1 week: $25,000

  • Airfare & baggage fees, EWR to LHR: $8,200
  • Hotel fees for 1 week: $6,843
  • Educational & tourist activities: $1,752
  • Transportation: $2,800
  • Meals: $2,400
  • Travel Insurance $500
  • Emergency and miscellaneous $1,000

 

 

Traveling Mad: A Taste of India

If you’ve never been to a place like the subcontinent of India before, your first trip will be an eye-opener. You’re sure to have an unforgettable experience, and you will be overwhelmed by all of your senses.

Today we’ll talk about taste. I like to call myself a foodie, though in reality I may just be greedy. Anyway, the food in India was the freshest I’ve ever had in my life. All of the food was grown or caught within a couple of miles of where I ate.

I was unsure about what I would be eating during my month-long trip to India, but assumed it would be a high intake of vegetables and no beef. But not all Indians are Hindu and hold the cow sacred. I later found out many restaurants had a selection of beef and other animals. During my time there I didn’t eat anything that had been cloned, pumped full of antibiotics, injected with hormones, sprayed with pesticides, or contained pink slime. I really could taste the difference, and enjoyed every bite. I was pescetarian for my trip, and enjoyed rice, vegetables, naan, fish, and other dishes. Did I eat with my hands? Most times yes; and it was finger-licking-good!

In case your Indian adventure isn’t planned just yet, don’t worry. There are plenty of Indian restaurants right here in New Jersey.

Here are a few photos to whet your appetite for delicious Indian food:

~ TravelingMad

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TravelingMad Postcard: A Night in the Desert

I needed a break from the US and decided to visit one of my new favorite places. I booked a ticket to Marrakech, Morocco, where I’d spent a week a year ago for a wedding. I was able to explore, taste, see, do. The city is not for the faint of heart. It’s bursting at the seams with tourists, peddlers, snake charmers and the like.

I scheduled a tour to the Sahara desert directly with my hostel, Mama Marrakech. I made a quick phone call and was told I’d be picked up the next morning between 7 and 7:30am, and that breakfast would be ready before then. Probably due to excitement, I woke up on my own around 6:30. I had already packed my bag the night before.

A delicious meal of flat bread drenched with honey, fried eggs, a biscuit and mint tea was served. Me and two other travelers discussed what clothes we had packed. What does one wear when riding a camel? We had no idea. We just assumed some type of long pants.

After about 7 hours of driving, sightseeing and bathroom breaks, we could not have been more relieved when our van pulled up to a caravan of camels resting and guides dressed in gandoras and turbans. This was the moment we had all been waiting for! I couldn’t wait to ride a camel through the desert.

Mounting the camel was quick and without ceremony. The guide said, “Hold on here. Squeeze.” A command was given to the camel and he rose on all fours. I was up high — camels are tall! I grinned with excitement but also held on for life. We thanked our driver and were off.

My travel buddy said, “You know we’re not in America, because there was no disclaimer.” I agreed. We joked that if we were in the US we would have had to fill out multiple release forms and emergency contact information. At minimum we would have been given some emergency words. I thought to myself, “How do I say STOP in Arabic? What’s my guide’s name? How do I say HELP?” Well, this was Africa, not America. No worries. And thankfully, I didn’t need to use any of those phrases.

During the ride, we all photographed the beautiful mountains, sand dunes and each other. Earlier I was holding on for dear life, but by the end I was snapping selfies! We gave our camels names. I named my camel Aziz. I thought it was appropriate, and I’ve always liked that name. Aziz was obedient, and we had a pleasant journey through the desert.

After a couple of hours we arrived at our camp site. The tents were different – much better than what I was expecting. It was dusk when we arrived. We were told we could come into the large tent with everyone. I saw shisha (hooka) and asked if they were going to smoke. The guide said yes, and that there was beer in the tent. (I later found out this was a joke; most Moroccans don’t drink alcohol. Neither do I, so I wasn’t disappointed.)

Our guide poured us mint tea, and we all said cheers. Everyone was asked where they were from and what languages we spoke. I was very impressed that many people in Morocco speak Arabic, French, English, Spanish, German and likely other languages. They will collect tourist money in any language you speak! Outside the tent was a fire, and the guides sang and played drums. I laid down to watch the stars. I have never seen so many. I actually saw shooting stars. It was beautiful. Breathtaking.

We rose early to watch the sun rise. I was completely in awe. It really is a bit indescribable. It was time for Aziz and I to head out of the desert. I was saddened to see the vans waiting for us in the distance. My dream trip to the desert in Africa had come to an end. I said goodbye and thank you to the guides in Arabic, but not forever. I will be back. I returned to America with a new sense of peace. The desert is bigger than me, and all of my menial stressors back home seemed to dry up and float away with the wind. This was an unforgettable journey. I think everyone should do it!

Go to the Moroccan desert. It will change your life.

 –  TravelingMad

P.S. Check out more of the photos from my trip on the TravelingMad Facebook page.

TravelingMad is a Newark native and world traveler. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter, and be sure to read her Street Style & Profile feature by Citi Medina.

TravelingMad Postcard: A novice’s guide to Amsterdam

Amsterdam, Holland

I would ask what the first thing is that comes to your mind after seeing the city name, but this is a family website, and I am not about to write about the “special” cafes, adult museums or red light district.

Seriously though, the city is full of culture and art at every turn. Describing all the city has to offer could take up an entire website, so I will provide a few highlights:

  • Van Gogh Museum – There’s something different about standing face to face with Van Gogh’s paintings. They are really spectacular and worth a few hours of your time.
  • Anne Frank House – History is well preserved at the Anne Frank house. This is an educational trip.
  • Heineken – Take a tour of a world-famous beer factory.
  • Tulips – People come from all over the world to see the seemingly endless fields of beautiful tulips.
  • Canal tours – The city is mostly water. A canal tour is a fun way to see the city, and you’ll also get great views of the popular houseboats.

Check out my Amsterdam experience in photos.

TravelingMad: I don’t have my passport yet, but I still want to travel

Visit Puerto Rico. (You don’t need a passport!)

Puerto Rico is my favorite island. I had always dreamed of going there, and the first time I had an opportunity to visit, I was thrilled.  (I also attended high school in north Newark, which has a large Puerto Rican population. You couldn’t tell me I was not Boricua, but that’s another story!)

I knew there would be beautiful scenery, beautiful people and good food. I opted for the touristy experience for my first trip: I booked a casino and hotel resort in San Juan at the Condado beach.

During the ride from the airport to the hotel, I had my camera in hand.  But as we drove through the busy streets and highways, I actually saw familiar sights. First, I saw a Texaco gas station. I don’t know what kind of gas I expected to be used there but I thought it would be foreign to me. Then I said aloud in disbelief, “Is that a Wal-mart??”

I was definitely in America, and although Puerto Rico is technically “American,” I was expecting a more tropical experience. Looking back I’m not sure how indigenous an experience I expected to have at a casino hotel and resort.

The hotel was excellent. The beach was beautiful, with  waves crashing against the rocks. Everyone was friendly to us. The restaurants near the beach were good — I had seafood. We explored the neighborhood and came across the luxury shopping drag, and all the big name international stores were there. We continued on and found one tourist shop that we really loved. They had everything. The owner, a very nice older gentleman, told us he and his wife have been in business for years. We talked with him for a long time, and bought all of our trinkets and souvenirs there.

During the rest of the trip, we went to the fort, took pictures, and did the tour at the Bacardi factory. (Go in the morning. It’s much less crowded, and you’ll have a better experience.)

Puerto Rico is rich indeed. After that initial trip to the island, I’ve been back twice. The second time I decided to have a less touristy adventure. I will have to tell you about that trip in another post.

Ask your neighbors in Newark who are Puerto Rican, or have been to Puerto Rico. They’ll tell you the reasons why you should go visit: it’s affordable, it’s tropical, and it’s awesome. Let me know when you book your ticket. I might try to crash your trip.

– TravelingMad

You’re from Newark? No way. Me too!

Have you ever been on vacation, or just really far from home, and run into someone from Newark? That has happened to me at least three times while living in Europe. I have met Newark natives that settled and lived abroad, that were vacationing — even performers from Newark on tour. We get around, and can be found almost anywhere.

I’m a Newark, New Jersey native and world traveler — this isn’t shocking, is it? I know some people find it odd that New Jerseyans and Newarkers actually travel. We have to change this. I need everyone to get their passports, pack a suitcase, and show up far away until the world gets used to seeing us.

I’ve been to countries where people have never even heard of New Jersey. In fact, some people only know of two places in the United States: California and New York. Tourists and expats are expected to be from New York City or Los Angeles. I often have to explain New Jersey in proximity to New York, and it’s been a challenge for some to really understand the difference between the two places.

I look for any excuse to travel, at any time. At my old job, I had a giant poster of a beach with palms trees in my cubicle. Looking at it was my motivation. I told myself, “If you work hard here, you’ll be able to go there.” My mission is to travel the world, and then bring those experiences home to share with friends and family. I’ve been to many countries, but I always come back home. Traveling is my thing.

Every time I meet someone from Newark outside of the U.S. I feel an instant connection with that person, and we end up chatting for a long time. I’m always happy to reminisce about things back home. We talk about what high schools we went to, our favorite Newark restaurants, and local politics. Running into “neighbors” while in England and France was surreal. (Everyone from Newark is your neighbor when you’re 3,600-plus miles away from home.)

More and more of us, even children, are traveling. People everywhere are finally starting to take notice of the advantages of exploring different places. This isn’t a trend; it’s a way of life.

My posts in the travel section will be about both domestic and international travel. I’ll share tips, budget travel suggestions, destination reviews, and a few flashbacks on my experiences as a Newarker traveling abroad. I look forward to reading your comments, and hearing about your experiences as well.

Make sure you say hello to me when I see you at the next vacation destination!

 – TravelingMad

Mad is currently traveling in Morocco.