#NewarkToLondon: Travel maven Madeline Boughton personally funds Newark students’ London trip

Six Newark public high school students are spending spring break in London, an all-expense-paid weeklong trip made possible by the diligence – and the 401(k) funds – of one passionate Newark native.

“No one is talking to children in Newark public schools about travel,” said Madeline Boughton, the trip’s organizer and primary benefactor.

At the age of 31, Boughton has traveled to 21 countries, camped out in the Sahara, and spent two years in Paris earning her Master’s degree. While she credits her parents with instilling a love of travel, she says discussions about studying abroad were nonexistent in high school.

Boughton has since become an outspoken advocate for the inclusion of international travel programs in urban school districts. Her platform has taken her door-to-door, visiting public high schools throughout the city where, she admits, several principals have flat out rebuffed her offers to speak with students.

“Sometimes they tell me no,” Boughton says. “They say we have to focus on graduation, and getting a job, and going to college. It’s not something we have time for.”

But she is hoping – “gambling” may be the better word – that this trip will inspire school leadership to shift their perspective. That is why she has invested $12,000 of her own money to make the trip happen. Without any corporate or philanthropic sponsors, Boughton initially turned to crowdfunding to cover the cost of airfare, hotel fees, and food. But when a two-month Indiegogo campaign only yielded $2,330, she withdrew the rest of the money from her own 401(k).

Madeline Boughton pitches the benefits of a weeklong London trip for Newark high school students in a video posted to Indiegogo. After the $25,000 campaign yielded just $2,300 in donations, Boughton funded the rest of the trip out-of-pocket.

“I was really stressed out and worried because I really didn’t want to cancel the trip, because I didn’t want to let the children down,” she said.

For their part, the students themselves were excited as the trip got underway. “The wait in Newark airport seemed like a couple minutes, it’s amazing how time flies when you’re excited,” blogged Joshua Skillern, a junior at Technology High school, as the trip got underway on March 29. “When we boarded the plane, none of us could keep quiet.”

With the help of an essay contest, Boughton hand-selected Skillern and four other high-achieving Newark high school sophomores last spring.  All honors students, the London entourage boasts two Rutgers Future Scholars, an NJIT Upward Bound student, and several athletes.

The itinerary includes touring Wimbledon and attending a Royal Shakespeare Company production. Students will also spend three days at Wroxton College, Fairleigh Dickinson’s satellite location in London, and the site of Boughton’s study abroad experience as an undergraduate. There, they will further explore Anglo-American cultural differences.

“We’ll be giving the kids that are coming over guidance about what it is they are seeing, some of the differences they may encounter, and why those differences are there,” said Dr. Nicholas Baldwin, dean at Wroxton College.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that international travel programs are absent from the curricula of Newark’s traditional public high schools. In a district where school administrators are saddled with addressing grave realities like low test scores and graduation rates, and where there’s been confusion and wrangling over the controversial “One Newark” school district reorganization plan, it’s easy to understand how a weeklong trip overseas could seem extraneous to school administrators, if not downright frivolous.

But in spite of both the steep monetary requirements and competition with more pressing priorities, access to excursions abroad for Newark students could be worth the effort in the long run, offering a global outlook for students who are inheriting an increasingly connected world where unprecedented global competition is a reality.

With this trip under her belt as a proof-of-concept, Boughton says she will seek the funding and support required to take a group of Newark high school students overseas every year.

 To read more about Boughton’s endeavors, see pictures from the trip, and read student blog posts, visit TravelingMad.com.

ayesha fainesAyesha K. Faines is a North Jersey-based writer and television journalist. Her non-fiction work explores millennial entrepreneurship, personal development, and the intersection of race and popular culture. A self-proclaimed “afromantic”, she also enjoys writing romantic fiction and poetry. She blogs regularly at www.xoAyesha.com and tweets @ayeshakfaines.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Madeline Boughton invested $23,000 of her own money into the students’ trip. In fact, she invested $12,000.

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



A traveler’s Newark: McGovern’s Tavern is an 80-year-old Newark mainstay

McGovern’s Tavern first opened its signature green doors in Newark back in 1936. Nearly 80 years later, the pub continues to reinvent itself while maintaining its storied past.

A new patrons will likely be drawn to the display of helmets hanging from the ceiling. McGovern’s gathered the collection over the past 20 years from former police officers and firefighters who have visited the bar and become part of its extended family.

In fact, family is an important theme at McGovern’s, and the establishment has managed to stay in the family for three generations. Most of its employees are either blood relatives or have been longtime, close family friends.

Bill Scully, who once owned the bar with his wife, Maura, is the uncle of one of the current owners. He is literally the face of McGovern’s, as his visage appears on the tavern’s coasters along with the words “In God We Trust. All Others Pay!,” the slogan he created in the course of his 50-plus years working at the bar.

It’s probably that sense of family that has cemented McGovern’s as a fixture both in Newark and in the extended community. The bar has established fundraisers for people in need, and raised annual scholarship funds for local kids to attend college preparatory high schools. According to its owners, these are just a couple of the ways McGovern’s gives back to the community that has supported them for eight decades.

The Irish pub is known for its burgers, delicious fries, and other freshly prepared menu items, and is lauded for a great pour of Guinness. It’s a place to see for Newark visitors and natives alike who are looking to enjoy a drink, have some food, take in some of the history of Newark, or do all of the above. At McGovern’s, history is present: pictures, signs, and clippings cover the green walls of the bar, providing an ever-present visual link to the past.

But make no mistake: McGovern’s isn’t a museum. Whether it’s the latest sporting event being shown, the sounds of live music performances filling the bar, the latest installment of Trivia Tuesdays, or beer pong night on Thursdays, McGovern’s is all about making the bar as fun and user-friendly as possible.

Despite operating through the Newark riots of the 1960’s, the economic decline of the 70’s and 80’s, and now the development in the surrounding downtown Newark area near McGovern’s, the interior of the Irish pub has seen only subtle changes. The bar has made a few updates to make customers more comfortable, like widening the doors for easier access, adding a projector and screen for viewing sports, and investing in a satellite jukebox to accommodate all of their customers’ musical tastes.

“It’s a place that, if you’re in Newark, you have to see,” says Sean McGovern, one of the current owners of the pub. “We’re an oasis, where you can come in, get away from the daily grind, and meet a variety of different people – whether it’s students, judges, painters, cops, or firemen – and get a real feel for Newark.”

So go down to Washington and New Streets and check out the only bar in New Jersey to make Esquire’s list of the Best Bars in America.

Located at 58-60 New Street, Newark, NJ 07102 | (973) 643-3984 | Hours of Operation: 10am-1am weekdays, 8pm-3am weekends | Happy Hour: 4pm-7pm, weekdays

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.

The traveler’s Newark: Open Doors edition with Sven Einarsson

I met Sven Einarsson, 46, of Sweden, at Art Kitchen Saturday while buying coffee in between Open Doors 2013 gallery stops. Einarsson and I chatted about Newark for over an hour before visiting more art festival exhibits. Here are excepts from our conversation:

What are you doing in here Newark?

I’m working on Open Doors at the fire station off Ferry Street (Prospect Street fire station, where “Ironbound Unbound #4” opened Friday night). We had the opening last night, and lots of people came.

I co-curated the show – I was invited by the gallery owner. They’re trying to create a new art center at the fire station, so they’re renting it from the fire department.  There’s still fire station things going on in the rest of the building.

How did you come to curate an art show here?

I got to know Yolanda Skeete because her daughter lives in Sweden, and I run my own gallery in Sweden. Yolanda visited, we became friends, and I worked for a while on her website – for Sumei Art Center.

Then I brought three artists from New Jersey to Sweden. We got a grant from the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm, and we showed them at three different galleries all across Sweden.

I’m bringing three pieces here to Open Doors, from Carolina Hindsjo, Birgitta Godlund, and Stina Brockman. They all know Yolanda, and I’ve exhibited their art at my gallery in Stockholm. Yolanda asked me to bring Swedish artists to Open Doors, and I picked those three artists because they’re very different. Carolina does video, Stina is a very well-known photographer who’s represented at the Modern Museum of Art in Stockholm, and Birgitta went through the Royal Academy of Arts in Stockholm, and she’s worked in various countries, including Russia. Carolina is also going to show her movies at a big video art festival in London, where she studied.

What was your impression of Newark before you came here?

I got the impression that Newark is pretty much like a suburb of New York. Now I know that Newark has its own life.

What’s been your sense of what that life is like in the brief time you’ve been here?

Everybody’s very friendly. I haven’t had time to go to New York because I’ve been tied to the fire station, but today I went up and down Market Street, and I met a lot of nice people.

Did you know Newark was voted the unfriendliest city in the world?

The unfriendliest? Really?! I didn’t know that. I can’t believe that. I met one rude person who was a manager in a store, but the girl who worked there – I talked to her for ten minutes and she was nice. You’re nice. Everybody else has been nice.  You get both sides here, just like everywhere else.

If I were to move to America, I would consider moving to Newark, because you’ve got everything here, and it’s so easy to get to Manhattan. Not that I’m really considering moving to America, but at some level, I would like to move here and live here.

The place where I live, it’s a part of the city, but it’s very quiet: we have two or three restaurants, a grocery store, and people commute into Stockholm to work. But Newark is actually a functioning city. You can live here, you can work here, but you can also travel to New York.

And you have all these amazing spaces that no one is using. Art actually attracts money, and it attracts people. Everyone will benefit from art. And occasionally, the artist will sell a piece – that’s good for the artist. But overall, it’s good for the community — the city.

As someone who runs a gallery, what’s your sense of Newark as an art town? Do you sense an organic art community here, and how would you describe it?

Definitely.  Of course, I haven’t seen all the work. But I’d say what I have seen is very vivid. You’ve got all kinds of artists, from graffiti to fine art. And graffiti is fine art, in my opinion. I actually prefer art in the street.

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

Why on earth are we launching a travel section?

When I was 17 years old, I traveled abroad for the first time. Along with about two dozen classmates, I visited a number of cities in Spain, and took a day trip from the tip of Spain to the top of Morocco.

While visiting one of the Spanish cities, some classmates and I went to a little teenybopper club. We met an English-speaking, American-seeming young man there. One guess where he was from.

That’s right. Just like our featured travel contributor, Traveling Mad, recalls in her inaugural travel post, I was an ocean away from home, yet managed to bump into someone from Newark, New Jersey.

Brick City Live is launching a travel section for a couple reasons. First, I’ve met many people in this city who travel, both domestically and internationally. We’re highly connected to the rest of the world through our airport, rail system, and easy access to key interstate highways. It only makes sense that a site with Brick City Live’s mission and ambition inform our readers about how to maximize the travel opportunities that infrastructure affords us.

And those trips include travel to other East Coast cities, which so many of us take for granted, but which are just as much travel experiences as anything else. After all, non-Americans travel halfway around the world to visit those places. (Also, in about the same time it would take to drive from Newark to Virginia Beach, you can drive north instead for an international trip to a French-speaking city.)

Second, many people from this city travel, and I think our perspectives on experiences outside of Newark are just as valuable as anyone else’s. Why not?

Third, a more personal reason: I love to travel. I think it’s one of the most horizon-expanding, transformative, and fun experiences a person can have. Living smack in the middle of a travel hub, I think it only makes sense that we swap suggestions, stories, and tips. At the very least, it might make those of us who haven’t given travel serious thought realize how much more accessible these opportunities are than one might think.

…Perhaps some of us will even take a trip together sometime soon.

And fourth: I find that travel can change the way you look at where you live. A few months ago, I went on an unofficial walking tour of Maputo, Mozambique that lasted for hours. Maputo is not scrubbed and pristine, but it’s still beautiful. I loved the tour (and posted about it on Brick City Live when I returned).

Inspired by that experience, the second walking tour I took this summer was…in Newark. I gathered with a group of about a dozen other people at Penn Station for the Have You Met Newark? tour, and spent four hours walking around the immediate neighborhood where I’d lived for five years, this time with a tourist’s eyes. About half of the people on the tour were Newark natives. Everyone had a great time, and it gave us a newfound appreciation for the history, architecture, culture, and characters we have right here in one of America’s oldest cities.

So we hope you’ll enjoy this section, and that you’ll help us build it by sending your travel pictures, experiences, and/or questions to travel@brickcitylive.com. To get to this section quickly, visit brickc.it/travel. To stay on top of Traveling Mad’s posts, visit brickc.it/mad. You can also check out her website, Facebook page, and Twitter page.

For more on what Brick City Live is all about, visit our About page, my “Exactly why are we launching a Style section” post, and my recent essay, “What about the shootings?

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.