In early May 2015, GoAbroad chose a winner for the Win the World South America Contest in which volunteer programs in Peru, Argentina, and Brazil were included, as well as flights from STA Travel. We couldn’t be more pleased to have chosen Alicia Harris, a recent graduate of Alabama State University, as the winner of the contest. We sat down with her this week to hear more about her excitement! *Special thanks to the Win the World South America Sponsors: Connect-123, IVHQ, GeoVisions, Project Favela, and Cross Cultural Solutions!
Alicia Harris, winner of the GoAbroad Win the World South America Contest
How did you hear about the contest and why did you enter?
I heard about the contest through the GoAbroad.com newsletters I was receiving via email. I signed up to receive the newsletters when I met two amazing women from GoAbroad at what is now my Alma Mater, Alabama State University. They had set up a table and let me and my fellow peers know about the endless opportunities we can have overseas, whether it was to study, volunteer or work abroad.
What was your reaction when you learned that you were the winner of the Win the World South America Contest?
When I first heard that I was the winner for the Win the World South America Contest I was in the car heading to California back from my graduation in Alabama. When I read my email I had to literally do a double take. In my mind I was like, “this is bananas, this cannot be legitimate!” If I won and if this is real, this trip cannot be FREE. I didn’t know what to expect so I just took a chance and responded to Kayla Patterson, and when she responded it really sunk in that this trip was legit and I was ecstatic. I was screaming over the music in the van I was traveling in. My mother looked at me and asked what happened and I told her I won the trip to Brazil with GoAbroad and I get to link up with STA travel, IVHQ, Connect-123, GeoVisions, Project Favela and Cross Cultural Solutions. My mother’s smile was so big and everyone in the car started telling me how proud of me they were.
Which country are you most excited about visiting (Peru, Argentina, or Brazil) and why?
I am excited about Peru, Argentina and Brazil, but I am most excited about Brazil due to watching films about Brazil or hearing about the 2016 Olympics! I found out that parts of Brazil are not in the best condition and that to have the Olympics in Rio there had to be a lot of work done in order for them to be there. I read that there are water shortages in Brazil and to me that caught my attention. I wanted to do something about it as soon as I heard and read about that. So being given this opportunity is beyond a blessing. I honestly just want to help and give back. I want to go to Brazil knowing I could do something to help no matter what it is. I just want to be in the trenches or on the front lines instead of being at home letting it be just a desire of mine.
Have you volunteered before? What are you looking forward to most about volunteering in South America?
Yes, I have volunteered before! From high school until now I have volunteered in California and Alabama. In high school I helped for a couple years take care of the elderly at Pioneer House. When I got to college I did a lot of campus and community clean ups – they called them campus or community beautification. When I would come home during break I would help my church give out food boxes from time to time that we got from Sacramento Food Banks to help feed the homeless every Wednesday. Even now, when I come home in the summer, I help my mom with her personal care home called Kingdom 24, where we take in elderly that family members don’t have the patience to deal with, and we have set food schedules and we basically take care any of their needs.
I really look forward to meeting the people in Peru, Argentina and Brazil. I look forward to them impacting my life and me impacting theirs. I really look forward to seeing what the culture there is like too! From music to language to scenery I want to soak as much up as I can.
Why is traveling internationally important to you?
Traveling internationally is important to me because it is something I’ve always wanted to do. I read a lot and I watch TV a lot and I always wonder if what I am learning is true or has validity to it. I don’t like just taking what people give me – I want to know it and see it for myself, because I believe the more you travel the more it breaks down bigotry, narrow-mindedness and gives you fresh and pure insight on how other countries really work. That is why it is important to me to travel internationally; it breaks down the presumptions and gives you a new outlook on life.
What would you like to say to other travelers and users of GoAbroad.com?
I would like to say to the other travelers and users of GoAbroad.com that GoAbroad is first and foremost real and legitimate, so when you get an email you should definitely reply! Ha-ha-ha, ok with all jokes aside, I really would like to say to my fellow GoAbroad travelers and users to go into these new experiences and opportunities being optimistic and with fresh minds and the willingness to be open to everything that this program has to offer.
I believe that we can all be an asset to GoAbroad if we put our best foot forward. If you get a newsletter or are afforded an opportunity to be a part of something on GoAbroad and it’s in your heart to do so, I believe you should do whatever you have to do to be a part of this amazing organization. Even though my trip is free, I understand finances can be a huge reason why a lot of people don’t usually get to partake in opportunities such as this, but I want to tell you – do not let money be an obstacle, maximize your strengths and outsource your weaknesses. There is no mystery to money; if you can solve a problem, you can make money. So do what you need to do, to do what it is you want to do! Onward my fellow travel bugs! Be Great.
To follow Alicia on her adventures in South America, follow her on Instagram!
Learn about all of the ways you can travel to South America!