Photo Credit: The Passport Portal
How The Passport Portal Is Helping Underprivileged Youth Study Abroad
Hulda Destin is the President and Founder of The Passport Portal (TPP). The 30-year-old was born in Haiti, and moved to New Jersey in 1993, where she has spent most of her life. Hulda attended Rutgers University and also studied abroad in Greece at The American College of Thessaloniki.
Passionate about teaching and traveling, Hulda has been living and working abroad for the past seven years. After a two-year teaching stint in Shenzhen, China, she relocated to Kuwait, where she has been for the past five years. She launched The Passport Portal in November 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The year 2020 was an exhausting and scary time for so many. However, one great thing about 2020 was that it gave me time to follow my dreams and visions. Ciarra Hodges, currently the Vice-President, and I had been trying to work on TPP for about a year, but something would always get in the way. Starting a nonprofit is scary, and it requires a lot of work and time. Eventually, Kiara Thompson and Eliada Destin got on board with us, which made everything seem a bit less scary. They helped turn a dream into reality!”
A nonprofit organization that promotes the importance and value of travel to marginalized and underprivileged students, The Passport Portal believes that traveling can broaden the horizons of the youth by giving them valuable perspectives and experiences they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.
The company’s mission is to help qualifying students afford and obtain a U.S. passport so that they may benefit from traveling opportunities. In addition, TPP also provides information and scholarships to these students when they venture off to study abroad. Hulda’s experiences traveling and studying abroad have largely contributed to her desire to help students in this way.
“I got my first passport in 2013 after being accepted into a study abroad program in Greece. It was my first international experience. It was truly life-changing, and led me to discover my love and passion for traveling. Being able to visit 47 foreign countries and live in two has been phenomenal. I want underprivileged youth to know that it’s okay to step out of their bubble and experience this beautiful planet. I want them to be able to be immersed in different cultures to broaden their horizons and become global citizens.”
Hulda knows firsthand the many merits of travel that extend well past the initial feelings of excitement. Exploring different cultures allows students to learn and experience new things and open their minds to different perspectives. Living on their own away from their families and culture helps to sharpen their sense of independence, responsibility, flexibility, and self-awareness. Furthermore, living abroad helps youth build character and allows them to make global friendships and connections.
“The Institute of International Education reports that only 29.2% of U.S. students who study abroad self-report as minorities—and only 6.1% identify as Black Americans. The Passport Portal is looking to increase these numbers and open doors to endless possibilities for tons of college students in the United States. Too often, African Americans, other minorities, and students from low-income families miss the opportunity to study abroad due to finances. I founded TPP to help cut some of those costs for these students.”
U.S. citizens who are enrolled as full-time undergraduate and graduate students at an accredited college or university in the United States are encouraged to apply at the website at www.thepassportportal.com/apply. Questions about applications can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Individuals or organizations looking to donate to The Passport Portal may do so at www.thepassportportal.com/donate. All donations are tax-deductible within the guidelines of U.S. law. Questions about donating can be sent to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“If you have any cool travel pictures or would like to tell us how studying abroad or traveling changed your life, please feel free to email us at email@example.com or tag us in a post on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.”