Student Spotlight: Ethan Wilkinson

You might say Ethan Wilkinson, a high school student from Michigan, approached fundraising for his upcoming trip to Costa Rica like a real professional – he created his own small business! He started a lawn care company from scratch. “My Mom helped me make postcards about my lawn mowing service, and then we walked door to door in my neighborhood. I ended up with at least six clients and worked on their home for the season,” Ethan shared. “I not only had to get the families signed up with me, but I had to go and learn how to use the right tools for the job, too!”

Ethan will use the money he earned to travel to Costa Rica with his Spanish class, and it will be his first time outside of the U.S. In between exploring rainforests and learning about live volcanic activity, he and his classmates will have the opportunity to experience local traditions and practice Spanish “for real” at a local school with peers their age.

We caught up with Ethan to get a closer look into his trip fundraising efforts, and hear about what he hopes to get out of his educational travel experience.

Q: What did you learn from your fundraising experiences that you can share with other students?
A: I would tell other students to stick with it. It takes a while to gain momentum, but if you stay with it, it’ll eventually kick in and start to work. It was a discipline for me – it was tough, but I learned a lot!

Q: We understand you also raised some money in your community, through WorldStrides Gift of Education program?
A: The WorldStrides donation tool was a big help. I got a lot of donations from my family and friends, especially after posting it on Facebook. My family was very supportive and left me notes with their donations. Really inspiring!

Q: What are a few favorite things you want to do and see?
A: I’m up for trying new food! …and I really want to see, face-to-face, all the animal species in the rainforests. I also want to feel what it’s like to zip-line through the cloud forest.

Q: What do you hope to get out of your visit to a local school?

A: I’m looking forward to just getting to know the students. I’d like to see what is different about their lives, like sports and schoolwork. I’m even thinking about things like what they eat – how it’s different from us in the U.S.! It’s also going to be fun speaking Spanish with them instead of just practicing, like we do at home.

Ethan’s excitement and willingness to experience a new place is infectious, and he hopes to continue to spread his enthusiasm and all he will learn. “What I really want to get out of my trip is this: I’m hoping I come home having grown and learned new things – a mind-opening experience. I hope I bring back an appreciation for a different culture.”