Guest blog by Yasmine El Baggari, founder of Voyaj, Inc.
I am on a mission to create a more peaceful, caring world by connecting people from around the globe to build meaningful relationships, foster global understanding and trust across boundaries, person-to-person, heart to heart.
As a 15 year-old Moroccan in a cyber café in my home of Rabat, technology connected me and my passions to the great possibilities of the larger world. Fortune found me as I waited, acutely aware, for any and all opportunities to understand and expand the life I knew. My older brother enabled my presence in these cafés. As my brother explored the internet for higher educational opportunities in the U.S., I searched, dreamed and planned for my future, using technology as well. My burning curiosity and family support helped propel me forward in bravery and inquisitiveness.
My dreams approached reality when, at age 17, I was selected after applying, to join a delegation of thirty Moroccan exchange students for a year abroad in the United States as a Youth Exchange Student Scholar, a U.S. State Department-sponsored program that aims to create understanding between Morocco and the United States. Under the guardianship of my host family in Kansas, I learned a new language and was introduced to a new culture. I was encouraged and challenged to share my story and culture, so foreign to those with whom I now lived.
I since had a dream to visit all 50 states to explore and experience American culture first-hand and to break down stereotypes about my culture. American families generously opened their homes to me for a few nights. My hosts enjoyed the opportunity to learn about Morocco and exchange ideas. I made so many friends along the way and gained understanding and great respect for America. By 2017, I had visited 48 states, 40 countries and stayed in over 150 homes. The warm hospitality and open-mindedness of the people around the world impacted me greatly and inspired me to bring my own experiences to others.
The amazing gift in all this was, and still is, the personal transformation and caring that can be sparked when we humans share one-on-one, face-to face, as we trade and share cultures, ideologies and sensibilities through our personal connections. An inspiring inquiry also arose for me: How can technology and person-to-person exchange seem so anomalous, yet so strongly connect to create my life-changing experiences?
My commitment to connect people to each other for deep interpersonal exchange to foster global understanding – via technology – drives me daily and led to my founding of Voyaj, Inc., an online platform that uses technology to connect people, face-to-face to bridge cultural differences.
Voyaj is an intersection where meaningful person-to-person exchange and technology meet. Thus far, Voyaj and its dedicated team have implemented a sharing economy model, collaborating with international institutions, corporations and governments. Voyaj is the bridge for people from around the world to deepen global understanding.
Finally, I would like to leave you with a few lessons I have learned throughout my journey:
Send a 1-minute video to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us about your interests, talents, dreams and what you want to share with the rest of the world.
And learn more about the mission of Voyaj here: www.voyaj.com
i think that her idea is amazing, and that she traveled the world is even cooler, i think that when im plder i am going to do what she did.
I go to Quail Valley Middle School, Missouri city, Texas and we love your show, and wish we can see your studio one day.