Most people go on vacation to relax and take a break from work. But for many, once their eyes are opened to the realities of the individuals living in the cities they visit, particularly in third-word countries, there’s a desire to do more than explore. Suddenly, you want to make a difference in the world.
Destination Teach is helping travelers do just that. Founded by Chandell Stone, Destination Teach is an organization that provides a fully immersive experience for ethnic minority groups where they are taken to Kenya or Morocco to volunteer and help in under-served schools.
Founded in 2014, Destination Teach is a social benefit corporation — a type of for-profit corporate entity whose work focuses on the positive impact on society, workers, the community and the environment in addition to profit. Since its inception, Destination Teach has taken young Black travelers on four trips, from camping in the Moroccan Sahara Desert to game-driving safaris in Kenya. Besides enjoying adventures, the travelers serve as temporary volunteers to partner schools and the profits generated through traveler fees are used to support scholarships and classroom supplies for teachers. So far, Destination Teach has funded three scholarships and donated hundreds of class materials as well as art and recess equipment.
In addition to running Destination Teach, Stone is also an Assistant Principal at a Success Academy Charter School in Bronx, New York. Stone shared with MadameNoire the importance of travel and giving back.
MadameNoire (MN): What prompted you to start Destination Teach?
Chandell Stone (CS): When I was in grad school, a friend of mine told me about an elementary school that her family ran in Kenya, and how they needed more resources to support the work there. We decided to try to generate money by bringing volunteers there. What it evolved into was a movement, where Black millennials have become a driving force behind this organization, turning their travel into an opportunity for sustainable development in Africa.
MN: Can you explain how it works?
CS: Right now our trips are eight days and are cohort-based to build community. The idea is to see as much of the country as possible, have some really dope experiences (i.e. going on a safari, camel riding through the Sahara desert, hippo watching, etc.) and do some community service in a school. As of now, no one on our team takes a salary. We use the money raised from the trips to support the schools. We’ve donated classroom supplies, bought shoes for kids, recess equipment, hosted family fun days with food, music, and crafts. We’ve provided three scholarships to teachers in Kenya to get teaching certifications.
MN: How do you juggle your full-time job as a principal and this venture?
CS: Girl…that’s a good question. It is not easy. Some weeks are harder than others, but I have an amazing team (Jasmine Newson, Deputy CEO, and Lindsay Romano, Chief of Program Development) and a lot of people rooting us on! I can’t give up on the kids. The work is too important. And by that, I mean my kids in the Bronx, and in Morocco and Kenya. They deserve a quality education.
MN: Why Morocco?
CS: Morocco is simply because I visited and became obsessed with the country–its history, the people, the beauty of the place. More people needed to see it…and not in a pretentious way. You come to really understand a place when you serve.
MN: Prior to this had you traveled much to Africa?
CS: Nope! I literally went for the first time with my first participant (Jasmine Newson), who is now a part of the team! She is definitely a daredevil (laughs). I don’t know that I would have gone with a random 22-year-old that I met at brunch to Kenya…and she paid! But that is how we got our start. All you need is one sometimes. The rest is history!
MN: What are your goals for the project for this year?
CS: We are holding a fundraiser on June 3rd to build a library and multi-purpose room at the school in Kenya. We can’t improve literacy when the kids don’t have enough books to read! Additionally, we will be providing three more scholarships this summer.
MN: What are some of your long-term goals?
CS: My long-term vision is start to a teachers college in Kisumu, Kenya, for teachers working in low-resource communities. Teachers are the single greatest influencer of student outcomes. If we can empower them, then can empower kids.
MN: Why is Destination Teach important?
CS: It’s not really that Destination Teach is so important. It’s more that the fundamental idea behind it is important. The idea that Black people can lead change in other Black communities. The idea that we can free each other. We don’t need government. We don’t need handouts. We have enough buying power in our community. We just have to put in the right places. The idea that we as a diaspora are one community is important. We need to feel more connected.
Destination teach is bringing together Black millennials from all over the world. We have people from South Africa, the Middle East taking advantage of this trip this year. It’s really exciting.