After raising more than $120,000 for a trip to Italy, nearly two dozen students and parents from a San Francisco high school were shocked to find out that the small tour operator they’d hired was closing up and liquidating its assets. On May 17, just two weeks before their trip was set to depart, they thought their trip was cancelled and their money was gone – that is, until WorldStrides stepped in!
Parent Hydra Mendoza reached out to CEO Jim Hall, who was concerned about the desperate situation. Immediately, Jim pledged to do what he could to help and WorldStrides International Discovery team swung into action. In just two weeks, WorldStrides planned and executed a similar trip and covered all the costs associated. The students departed as originally planned on June 3.
“When it became apparent that the trip was actually going to happen, everyone felt that their faith in human nature had been restored. Throughout the entire trip, the students continued to express their gratitude and amazement that they were so fortunate to have been able to take the trip after all,” teacher and Program Leader Judith Branzburg said afterwards. “The folks at WorldStrides are definitely heroes in our book and we are going to do our best to make sure that our entire community is aware of this very generous deed!”
Branzburg has been taking students on educational trips to Italy since 2003. Her trip has become a tradition at the school, and a much-anticipated part of the year for students in her Italian class. Some babysit, wash cars, and offer swim lessons to earn money. Some parents offer this trip as a graduation present or in lieu of family vacations. Sadly, this year, a parent passed away from cancer, but not before explicitly encouraging her teenager to go to Italy, no matter what.
“I know how much a trip like this means to a school community,” Jim Hall explained. “It’s so disheartening to see them affected by the failure of another company, and we were so glad to be in a position to help.”