12 Oct Cha Jones Talks to Us About Boarding Pass
We spoke with Cha Jones, President of Expat Women of Color and founder of Boarding Pass, an intercultural education program for ladies in high school who have not had the opportunity to travel internationally. The aim is to help these young women know themselves better and introduce them to a world of intercultural understanding and learning.
Boarding Pass is one of four organizations that will be supported by DreamFest Digital, our all virtual conference for entrepreneurial leaders. Cha is also one of the dynamic speakers set to talk about leadership during DreamFest.
Our questions, and Cha’s answers, are below.
What makes exchange programs beneficial?
They allow individuals to grow. When one steps outside their comfort zone, they often are able to see what they take for granted. It’s a processes of expansion.
What have been the challenges in moving this program forward?
I think that the biggest challenge has been getting people to see the value. Often people will take their children on a trip to an amusement park, but they can’t see the value in allowing their children to see the world. Travel is the one thing that you invest in that makes you richer because of the experience, but it’s easier to take a child to the amusement park and have them be entertained. The children will remember the experience, but in most cases, it isn’t adding value. They aren’t being changed by the experience and that is what I think many people miss when they don’t see the value of intercultural educational trips.
What’s an example of an account where an exchange program has had visible results of growth on the individual?
There is a documentary called, “Beyond the Wall,” which puts a different face on study abroad. It shows 4 black students who get the opportunity to study abroad and it discusses how they are changed or impacted. It’s amazing because you see how the students get this wonderful opportunity to leave their environment, some of which are not the best, and they get to see how other people live. You witness how they realize that people are more alike than different. One the of the other things that I loved about this documentary is that these students are making an impact on their friends and family because they get to live through their experiences. So, I guess I would say that before these students had a narrow view of the world, but after traveling and studying abroad they were exposed to other cultures and now have a broader view of the world and how people in general, all want many of the same things.
What makes you excited about this program? How can it be emphasized how wonderful of a program this is?
I am excited about this program because I personally know what it feels like to get off a plane in a foreign country and really explore something different and it is amazing. I am excited because I want young women who look like me to know that the world is indeed flat when it comes to being able to connect and reach other people and cultures. Sometimes it is really easy to have a false sense of yourself, but traveling really gives you the opportunity to get to know yourself and at the same time see other people with a different lens, one that is not filtered by the media or propaganda. So, I am super excited to be able to help young people broaden their horizons and get outside their comfort zones.
What are the benefits of connecting people from different parts of the world?
The real benefits I think I mentioned before, but it’s to realize that we as people are more alike than different. As humans, we all fundamentally want the same things. We may look different and even speak a different language but we all want to be seen, heard, and appreciated. We all want to have a good life and take care of our families.