ST. LOUIS – Only about five percent of college students who travel abroad are African American. Some local high school students want to change that statistic. This May, 30 St. Louis students will travel to Costa Rica.
"I'm very excited," Vashon High School sophomore Antonette Sutton said.
The Show Me Costa Rica Project started seven years ago, when a group of Vashon students visited Clayton High School and noticed kids there had opportunities to study abroad.
Samantha Lurie was their biology teacher.
"They were like, 'I just, I can't believe we don't have those type of opportunities. How come?' And that's a really hard question to answer," Lurie said. "They really, really didn't give up and kept asking me about it."
Since then, 55 students have gone on the trip and learned this: if you have the means to travel, travel. If you don't have the means to travel? Travel. Students traveling this year say fundraising is an important part of their journey.
"It's letting me see how good of a businessman I am," sophomore Demond Glover said. "I'm a good persuader."
"It helped me further develop my leadership skills," Sutton added.
Once they're on the ground, students will learn even more about themselves, and the world, as they explore the rainforest, mountains, and markets.
"I would like to go see where the coffee is actually made," Glover said. "When my mom came up here, she was so excited for me. She dropped a couple tears. A couple weeks after that, she actually passed away, and that motivated me to continue and not give up on the Costa Rica Project."
Though, they know there will be challenges along the way.
"I am getting on my first airplane," Glover said. "I'm a little nervous for that."
Domonic Archie Jr. went on the trip last year and gives advice to his peers.
"It's like I'm the big brother," he said.
Since then, the international exchange organization, AFS, gave him a scholarship to study abroad again. He plans to go back to Costa Rica this July.
"We have so many amazing stories from our alums," Lurie said. "This is really shaping kids' lives."
The program started at Vashon High School. However, this year, students from Carnahan High School, Central Visual and Performing Arts, and Gateway STEM are going on the trip. All are St. Louis Public Schools.