Announcing Our #GoAbroadChallenge Winners!

When our Ready, Set, #GoAbroadChallenge on TikTok came to a close at the end of January, our team was tasked with a near-impossible ask: Picking just one winner. That’s because we received dozens of quality submissions that inspired and impressed us. Participants were vying for our Grand Prize: a FREE 4-week volunteer trip in South Africa courtesy of African Impact. However, only one meaningful traveler could come out on top.

Meet Our Grand Prize Winner: Maria Villalvazo

maria villalvazo photo collage

Based on creativity, aesthetic, and technical skill, we’re so excited to choose Maria Villalvazo as our Grand Prize Winner! We asked her a few questions about how she found out about the contest, and what she hopes to achieve on her volunteer program. Learn more about her below and watch her winning submission!

Where are you from and where do you currently live?

I am from Orizaba, a small city in the state of Veracruz, México. Currently, I live in Saint Paul, Minnesota in the US, where I study my master’s degree.

How did you hear about the GoAbroad TikTok contest?

I was doing research on paid internships abroad and I found a really helpful article from GoAbroad. Then I browsed around the website and found out about the contest. I think the universe totally set me up!

What inspired you to enter the contest?

I am a creative person, who loves to travel and learn from different cultures so I told myself, why not? Let’s give it a shot! Traveling and expanding my mindset is what inspires me to keep pursuing challenges and putting myself out there. Aside from advocating for equality, figuring out new adventures is always on my to-do list.

What makes you most excited about volunteering in South Africa?

South Africa is a unique country in so many ways; it is the first inhabited country on Earth, a place rich in history and diversity in its own cultures. I am really excited to learn the culture and traditions of the ethnic group I will be volunteering for. I’m especially excited to see the artistic expressions, music, and arts from the African communities, as well as explore their different landscapes, go on adventures, and admire their wildlife.

What do you hope to achieve or do during your time in South Africa?

My main goal is to be helpful and resourceful for the community. I also hope to build strong relationships with my peers and create long-lasting memories. I am really keen to explore and capture this incredible adventure through my camera lens, eat amazing food, and have fun!

Do you have any future travel goals?

One of my traveling goals is to visit and explore the 7 Wonders of the World. Currently, I have seen 2 out of 7. Therefore I am looking to travel to Brazil, Peru, India, China, and Jordan. This list is not exhaustive—I am definitely keen to keep traveling and learning about the diversity of cultures in our world as long as I am alive.

Follow Us On TikTok to Join the Next Contest

People’s Choice Winner: Esther Paul

We are also ecstatic to offer the People’s Choice Award, a $500 Travel Scholarship, to the submission that received the most likes on TikTok!

Esther won our People’s Choice Award with 535 likes on her TikTok submission. She was awarded a $500 Travel Scholarship to use on a future trip abroad.

However, Esther chose to use her scholarship to enable others to travel for a great cause instead. Learn more about her and how she’s using her scholarship!

esther paul tiktok people's choice winner for goabroad

Where are you from and where do you currently live?

I’m from Nigeria—currently based in Delta State.

How did you hear about the GoAbroad TikTok contest?

I heard about the GoAbroad contest from a platform called iDixcover opportunities.

What inspired you to enter the contest?

In 2023 one of my priorities is to travel to see the world beyond social media. I’m passionate about meeting people from different cultures, food, language, and also volunteering in ways that help improve the standard of living for young people. This is especially true for opportunities that help young people learn skills and values on how they can become people of impact.

How do you plan to use your travel scholarship?

I will be using my scholarship funds to grant other young girls a travel experience to my city through Girl Equip, an empowerment initiative that I founded. Girl Equip is a non-profit organization that provides young girls with mentorship, training, and networking opportunities to help them succeed in their personal and professional lives.

This scholarship will allow 100 girls to attend a one-day summit. At the summit they will learn and gain awareness of their self-worth and how they can contribute to the world at large. This summit will be happening in the month of April 2023. Remarkably this will be the first event organized by the Girl Equip initiative.

What are your travel goals for the future?

I look forward to visiting other African, western, and European countries for the purpose of learning, networking, collaborations with NGOs and brands, and to impact my community, my country, and the world at large.

I want to specially thank the GoAbroad team for the opportunity given to me through the funds to travel. And I’m glad to let you know you’ve made a great difference in my life and the lives of other young girls in my community.

How to stay up to date with future opportunities

Didn’t have a chance to enter our TikTok contest? No worries! We’ll have similar opportunities in the future. Get involved with the next one by subscribing to our newsletter and following us on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter.

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