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Fall is officially upon us, and we wanted to share with you a few stories, personal reflections, and highlights from our 2017 scholarship students’ summer. 
Geography of Hope gives students opportunities to expand their world, to unleash their potential, to adventure away from digital devices and stereotypes they’ve been cast into, and to connect with new people where the focus is shifted from their usual routine.
To be able to give deserving students, regardless of their background, financial status, race, religion or gender the opportunity to enrich themselves and the group they travel with – that is something to feel passionate, proud and purposeful about.  Your support of Geography of Hope has direct and meaningful impact. Thank you.

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“As corny as it sounds, this trip changed my life.  I am now driven to make an impact on those who are not aware of the dying marine life. I learned about a severe problem that affects all of our lives, and without GOH I would not be as environmentally aware as I am now. Ultimately, this trip surpassed all my expectations, I have grown to become a better diver, student and most importantly I learned how my actions affect the environment around me.”  - Max, Auggie Carnell Scholarship, Conservation is Key, FL
(Note: upon return home Max went through his entire apartment and got rid of all plastic materials that are negatively impacting the environment. And educated his family on why and what damage they are doing!) 

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“I had an incredible time and made so many new friends and memories. I now have a new and greater love for traveling. The most valuable part of my experience was the immersion into the Tanzanian culture and the outdoors. It introduced me to new principles and interests. I learned to eliminate stereotypes from my mind, and to not judge others quickly. My outdoor skills, skills involving child care, camping, and social skills all improved due to the service work, adult figures and outdoor activities. I can’t wait to travel more and see all that is out there.” – Josephine, Rachel G. Smylie Scholarship, Tanzania, Africa

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“I not only want this opportunity, but I need it. I am at the point of life where I am done with the basic social media and the ache my thumb gets from scrolling through my Instagram and Facebook feed; I want adventure. This opportunity would be more than life changing for me, it would be an exhilarating quest of adventure... This opportunity would change my lens on life and give me a more valuable reason as to why I push and work so hard in order to be the first one to graduate high school and go to college in my family.” – Excerpt from Kayla's application essay, Timothy Schaffer Scholarship, Call of the Wild, Colorado

“At Mission Wolf, Kayla was calm and confident when face to face with the huge wolves, which in turn allowed the wolves to feel comfortable with her presence. When we weren’t with the wolves, we completed a variety of service projects, no matter what the task -  her perseverance and positivity throughout made her an incredible leader, and friend one that other participants would look to as an example.  Despite expressing feeling hesitant and nervous before rock-climbing, she excelled at the activity -  as she did in every aspect of the trip - and she ended up climbing more times than anyone else in the group."  – Excerpt from leader letter to Kayla’s mother

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“At first, Jackie was one of our quieter and shyer participants, but as the weeks wore on she slowly came out of her shell and could often be found surrounded by a small handful of students cracking jokes. Jackie never once tried to change any facet of her personality to try to better fit in with the group. Her unique experiences and sense of humor made her a highly-valued participant and friend. Jackie is willing to give herself to any being less fortunate than her and through her actions, this is a lesson she taught to other members of the group. Her quickness to smile, hard work ethic and ability to see what needs to get done and simply do it contributed to our group in immeasurable ways – everyone on the group left a better more other-centered person because of Jackie. She accomplished more than she thought she could; she also broadened the horizons of many students in our group.”  - Excerpt from leader letter, Jackie, Utah Unleashed

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“Giselle had been worried about connecting with her peers, being away from home, and the physical demands of the trip. But these were obstacles that did not stand in her way. She pushed the entire group to be more mindful about their time in Africa, and encouraged - by her own actions - everyone to be kind and respectful --  to host families, to orphanage children and to one another.”  - Excerpt from leader letter, Giselle, Rachel G. Smylie Scholarship, Hujumbo, Tanzania, Africa

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“We were able to serve the community which was super rewarding. Our group got along so well, like a family, that even when we were doing some challenging work it was fun. A highlight was hiking up Haleakala - it may have been hard to do but reaching the summit was a reward itself. It definitely was a life changing as I have never experienced such an adrenaline rush in my entire life! It was very cold as we reached the top of the summit but it didn't make me have a change of heart. In Maui, I had my first experience surfing. The moment I caught my first wave was definitely worthy of my top moments in my life.” - Florencio, Radiation Oncology Scholarship, Aloha' Aina, Hawaii

I hope that you can go about your day, week, month, knowing that your support of Geography of Hope is making a difference. The scholarships you make possible allow students to participate in programs that use outdoor exploration, immersion in different cultures, service learning, and intentional group communication activities as a catalyst for positive transformations.  Simply – you are helping these students discover and become their best selves.
With appreciation,

Emily and the Geography of Hope Team