Posted on January 28, 2016 · Posted in News

I will never go back to being the person I was before I lived in France for five months. The person I was back then only dreamed of traveling and seeing the world. The world was nothing more than lines drawn on a huge map and a dot to indicate a place I called home…. They say home is where the heart is and if that’s the case, I’ve left parts of my heart scattered out there. They say I leave to forget. Wrong. I leave to remember why I always come back. I am part of my community as much as I am part of them, but I have learned that home is a feeling and not a place. I have many homes and many people to call family.

HI USA Travel Grant Recipient Alicia Frausto

The above is an excerpt from the travel journal of Alicia Frausto, 2015 recipient of HI USA’s Los Angeles-area travel grant. Each year, HI USA presents an annual Travel Grant in the amount of $1,000 to an individual in the Greater Los Angeles area who is between the ages of 17 and 26 and just beginning his or her travel experiences in life. The purpose of the Travel Grant is to assist recipients in adding an experiential learning component to a particular topic of interest for personal growth, academic studies, and/or career development.

Alicia put her grant money towards a dual study abroad and internship experience through Syracuse University’s Strasbourg program in Strasbourg, France.

Born and raised in a small house in Anaheim, traveling away from the immediate community was out of the cultural norm while Alicia growing up. A first-generation college student, even the 30-minute move from home to campus the campus of Claremont McKenna College, where she’s a student, was an ordeal that took some convincing. As Alicia writes, “Latino cultural values run strong in my family, and therefore deciding to study abroad was a difficult conversation with my parents.” Combine that with financial circumstances, Alicia had yet to be afforded the experience of traveling abroad before departing for Strasbourg this past August.

While in France, Alicia was able to reconnect with her love of the French language, as well as continue her learning in international education policy.

“In my experience, education has been a form of empowerment. I want to pursue a career in education policy because I want to influence and assure that the voices and needs of my community are being considered and reflected in the policy making process,” Alicia says.

Read Alicia’s full travel journal here, and don’t forget to check back for information on how you can apply for HI USA’s 2016 Travel Grant!