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COSTA RICA (May 2023) -- Global Citizen Adventure Corps (GCAC), a new nonprofit focused on cross-cultural travel service, crossed generational barriers in May as participants’ ages ranged from 16 to 84. Learners worked with volunteers from around the world at the Rescue Center Costa Rica to support the nonprofit’s efforts to end wildlife trafficking. Connecting the workers was a shared appreciation of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ financial contribution covering the costs of supplies needed for two days of construction and animal care at the Central Valley-located facility.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer learned of the project via her tour coordinator, Ed Sargent, who serves on the board of GCAC and participated in the service and cultural experiences of the week.
“Joan is known for her lifelong commitment to the protection, rescue and rehabilitation of animals,” said Sargent, a resident of Lakeland, Tenn. “When I presented the team with the opportunity to support our efforts, there was no hesitation.”
The spring trip marks GCAC’s fourth since organizing as a nonprofit last year. A total of 60 participants have supported health care in Guatemala, education in Colombia, and two separate weeks with the wildlife rehabilitation work in Costa Rica. As a nonprofit, GCAC accepts donations to help cover the expenses of what is often the first international trip for high school and university students and other economically challenged community members in West Tennessee. Based in Dresden, Tenn. and led by co-founders Stacie Freeman and Julie Hill, the organization has a goal of providing more scholarships in the Mid-South and Ohio Valley, specifically, for those in rural areas and people of color from larger cities.
“Both Stacie and I know the impact travel has had on our lives and the importance of sharing our commitment to care for people and the planet,” said Hill, who assumed the lead role in travel details for this Costa Rica travel service learning. “We are grateful to have a supportive and diverse board who share our vision and are ready to commit their resources and relational connections to help.”
The latest excursion included more community members thanks to the recruitment efforts of board member Christine Fox of Memphis. Church and business leaders, many on their first trips outside the U.S., enjoyed hikes, waterfalls, a national park and a beach, along with learning about the country’s biodiversity, farm-to-table enterprises, agriculture and wildlife.
Chelaynn Perez Salvador, a Federal Express ramp agent in Memphis, expressed appreciation for the wide range of activities and blending of learning and service. She also had words of encouragement for future participants.
“There are a lot of people who are afraid to leave their neighborhood,” noted Salvador. “They are putting themselves in a small box when they do that. They would never be able to experience what we have because of fear. Sometimes you have to put fear to the side and have faith because that’s the only way you can branch out and try different things. Because there’s beauty in nature. There’s beauty in culture.”
Global Citizen Adventure Corps (GCAC) provides transferable college credit and scholarships for service-learning and travel opportunities to high school and university students in rural communities and cross-generational travel service learning for community members throughout the Mid-South and Ohio Valley. For more information visit www.globalcitizenadventurecorps.org.
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