Suzi Hofrichter – Spain (2010) †

I’m not entirely sure I can pinpoint the moment in my life where I caught what most know as the “travel bug.” Although most of our lives progress in a structured, rigid, and often confining form; nearly every person on this planet can empathize with that sense of excitement and anxiety that is felt before venturing to a new place. Whether that moment culminates in the packing of a suitcase, the purchasing of a plane ticket, that first step onto the tarmac, the swiping of a key card in the hotel room door, or the pulling back of the blinds on your first day in a new city. We all find a sense of camaraderie in our efforts to escape from the reality that constricts us to our own circumstance. We all find a comfortable familiarity within the mystery of travel.

My understanding of this notion has always been that travel is not merely a indulgence worthy of only affluent few, but rather a commodity that should be embraced by all. Although to date my travels are far less expansive than I wish them to be, my interaction with other cultures has taught me this proactive attitude towards travel is one that spans nearly every nation; every nation that is, but one- The United States. Within a society that not only promotes the prioritization of work above all, but one that demands it with the structure of our corporate system, it is easy to understand the American desertion of travel. In comparison to countries such as Italy, France and Germany which average 43, 37, and 35 paid vacation days per year, the U.S. displays its corporate driven nature by averaging only 13 days. This factor in combination with our geographically isolation results in a culture that turns the concept of “great world travels” into a distant and unattainable luxury.

It is for this reason that I strive to surpass a personal endeavor to experience the world, but rather make it my priority to ensure that others partake in the wonders of this globe. Now, I’m sure you, dear reader, are currently asking how this ambition would warrant me the amazing opportunity of being granted the Globetrotter Grant. To explain this, I must clarify beyond what my ‘past’ could inform. Much like the essence of this travel I have come to love, I look not where I come from, but rather where I am going.

Through the analyzation of the world in the way I have just described, I have realized a seemingly obvious need that has yet to be fulfilled. Rather than treating the symptoms of this cultural starvation through the production of periodicals and media that merely reinforce the great grandeur of travel, I propose treating the source with a form of media that displays these ventures as not only within reach, but easily attainable. I propose this through a youth travel show I have come call The Global Graduates.

Within the course of the last year, where in which I ventured to Great Britian, Scotland, Germany, the Netherlands, and Ireland through our university’s study abroad program I have not only reaffirmed my love for travel but noticed the same infatuation within my peers. In our current global economic crisis, adults who once were willing to endure the financial causalities that their travels incurred are refraining from purchasing those plane tickets all together. In complete contradiction to the constraints of these fiscally difficult times, however, young adults from the ages of 20-26 are traveling more than ever. Whether these travels take the form of study abroad programs, spring break adventures, or the utilization of the unemployment ‘limbo’ created by a hostile job market, youth travelers are continuing to utilize our time to see the world outside our own backyards.

Why is it then, that no video travel media exists for this market? It is my belief that the adults that normally produce this travel media are unable to perceive travel through the eyes of the youth. My proposition is to forgo the necessity for them to, and rather let the youth themselves lead the revolution to tangible travel. The concept I have created for Global Graduates follows the adventures of 6 individuals who are diverse in background, character, and interests. Each of these individuals would be “hired” out of their home universities under the premise of this travel show acting as a study abroad program. Within each episode these 6 individuals would be given a set budget ($1000-$3000) to experience a foreign city for 3-7 days. This budget would need to include airfare, food, activities, as well as lodging. The show itself would follow the trials and tribulations they experience while having to maintain this budget within the city, as well as focusing on the activities in which they participate while there. Viewers would inevitably be led to find the ‘host’ with whom they can identify the most. For instance, those potential travelers who find an interest in art would take note of the activities of the host who structures their sightseeing based on that same desire. In contrast, those students who are looking for a more locally social experience of a city would follow the host whose focus would be on clubs, local university ‘hang outs,’ or city festivals. Each host would also be expected to run a blog (with the potential for them to be turned into guide books) which would give further insight to their experience within each city, beyond what that episode may have shown.

Although this brief description merely scratches the surface of the potential I feel this idea has, the constraints of my own financial standing result in it remaining just that- merely an idea. My hope would be to use this Globetrotter Grant to create a pilot episode for Global Graduates. My proposed destination would be Spain and possibly Portugal (if budget allows). These funds would sponsor a 7 day trip from May 12th- May 19th 2010, a time period many students would have the potential to travel. With the contribution of $500-1000 of my personal funds, I would plan a trip to Spain within the set budget. Because Spain is a travel destination my target demographic has established a clear interest in, I feel this would be an ideal starting point for the shows beginning. Airfare would range from $800-1000, Lodging would need to fall within the budget of $200-400, while the remaining budget would be contributed to food, and activities. I would keep log and video all of my ventures while abroad. Upon my return, I would edit the content to create a tangible pitch for the idea.

The passion I have for the Global Graduates is one that goes beyond what I could adequately articulate on this sheet of paper. I know this is merely a starting point. I know that the expertise and mastery to create the final project will go far beyond what my mind can dream, or my hands can create. But, I refuse to give up. The same sense of empowerment I wish this show to create within its audience in regards to travel, must be one that I carry through the accomplishment of the shows creation. I realized this is not a “one man” job. The Global Graduates will only be accomplished as a result of creating a team that harbors the same passion for travel and desire for cultural expansion as I do. The presentation of this grant seems a perfect counter part to that passion, and with the help of your board I can actually put into practice all that I preach.

Regardless of whom receives this grant, I would like to thank each of you for sharing the same passion I do. I thank you for giving students the opportunity to experience the world despite their financial circumstance, and I thank you for showing us all that with the generosity of individuals like yourselves all that which seemed unattainable just suddenly came well within our reach.

Download Proposal PDF

Read Suzi’s Trip Report

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