Ever since the United Nations declared this in the International Decade for People of African Descent, it seems that efforts among African Americans and others in the transatlantic diaspora to reconnect with their heritage are once again gaining momentum. To some, this ultimately means a pilgrimage to the motherland.
Various cultural organizations sponsor trips for adults and families who want to tour the ancient history sites of Egypt, slave castles of Ghana and natural wonders of East Africa. For college-age students with access to a bit of money, there are voluntourism trips and study abroad programs. College graduates with some skills who are willing to stay in Africa for an extended period of time can look into the Peace Corps, Fulbright fellowships or teach abroad opportunities.
Summer is a perfect season to explore new horizons, and here are a selected number of programs designed for children and teenagers to have this valuable exposure early in life. There is plenty of room for creative social entrepreneurs to create similar programs, especially in America’s big cities with residents who are culturally aware and want to give their children unique experiences.
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A few others not mentioned offered similar travel opportunities in the past but are currently not bringing groups, often due to lack of financial support. Many of the programs below are fundraising as we speak to provide free or significantly reduced cost trips for the youth they serve.
Not only do these programs stimulate the imagination of our youth, but they also create connections between Africans and African Americans, offer partnership possibilities with schools and NGOs in the destination country, and give a small but meaningful boost to the tourism-related industries in those nations, employing the people who house, cook and transport these young travelers.