VT Cast #4: VolunTourism 'Under 25'
Why are teenagers and young adults participating in VolunTourism? What makes their contributions unique as this travel genre continues to unfold? How will they shape the future of the tourism industry? Guests share some of their experiences and the ways in which they are changing the future of travel today.
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Cody J. Nelson, Student Body President at Bemidji State University [Bio], Greg Tehven, Founder of Students Today Leaders Forever [Bio], and Karinda Washington, Founder of BOTS Entertainment [Bio].
|Photo Courtesy of Cody Nelson, All Rights Reserved
[On visiting Detroit, MI for the first time]
"Well, it was really unique for me, actually my favorite story out of that stop for me was our bus driver. We had a bus driver that was spending nine days with us and he was pretty quiet. And you know, he drove us to our destinations and we would get off, we’d have a load of fun, we’d do some service, and then we’d come back and he would just sit on the bus the whole time.
Well, once we got to Detroit he got off the bus and he actually met a local down there and next thing you know I see him grabbing a garbage bag and helping us out and all of sudden our bus driver is a part of this now. And he came back on that bus and he was so excited he grabbed the microphone and he just couldn’t thank us enough for giving him that opportunity - - it’s like, well, you drove us here, you’re the one that built the opportunity." Cody J. Nelson
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[On why service is so important to this group 'Under 25']
"I think a lot of people 'Under 25,' we feel very under appreciated. A lot of us have lived with controlling parents who think we have to do things a certain way. But a lot of us have found through service, we can do things that we never imagined.
|Photo Courtesy of Greg Tehven (left above), All Rights Reserved
I can remember, I was with a high school program, a high school tour, and we were in Ames, Iowa and there was this 17-year-old girl that was with us. That day, our project was to de-roof this old cabin, take the shingles off of this cabin at a 4-H camp. And so I didn't know anything else, but I encouraged her to go up and be part of it. And that night during a reflection activity, she shared that her father had never let her go up on the roof of their house to help put up the Christmas tree lights; it was always her younger brother who got to go up on the roof. But on this experience she got to serve and contribute and show herself that she could do something.
And I think when we serve we realize so much about ourselves, the power that we have, the opportunity we have to contribute. And I believe that, you know, the ‘Under 25’ group when we get a taste of it it’s something that we continue to do and want to be more and more a part of - it’s very addicting!" Greg Tehven
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|Photo Courtesy of Karinda Washington, All Rights Reserved
[On how she got connected to voluntary service]
"Actually it was my parents, my mother runs a nonprofit organization and has done so for the last twenty years of my life and so every day that I can remember it was either 'Hey, take these new shoes that I just bought you, you’re givin’ em to this kid cause they really need 'em. We’ll go get you some more. Or come and help clean up this park not because you want to but because I told you to.' And so as a young kid I could just remember havin' to do all these nice things and I’m thinkin' 'My parents must be crazy, like, why do I have to take off MY shoes to give to this kid, you know, what’s that all about.' And then, right around the age of thirteen somethin' struck in me and said, 'You know what, that’s because this is your lifestyle, this is what your parents have put before you as an example." Karinda Washington
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Cody J. Nelson, Student Body President, Bemidji State University
I was born and raised in Crookston, MN as the only child of two educators. I am currently in my senior year at Bemidji State University in Bemidji, MN with a major in Business Management. If I could do it all over again -- I'd finish with Non-Profit Management and Philosophy for my Degrees. I currently am serving my second year as the Student Government President and am focusing heavily on bridging the "gap" between campus and the Bemidji Community. I have been engaged with STLF for all four years of my college career and have experienced five Pay It Forward Tours. STLF has opened my eyes to service, leadership, and relationships.
Gregory Tehven, Co-Founder, Students Today Leaders Forever (STLF)
Greg Tehven is a graduate of the University of Minnesota in the Carlson School of Management where he studied entrepreneurship management and leadership. His personal life statement is simple, he believes in inspiring, challenging and encouraging others to live their life to one’s highest potential. He is a co-founder of the not for profit organization Students Today Leaders Forever. STLF has created a spring break learning experience combining service and travel called the Pay It Forward Tour. And offers High School Leadership Camps to prepare young people for the future.
Karinda L. Washington, Founder, BOTS Entertainment
Karinda is a native of the city of Detroit and an Alumni of Eastern Michigan University, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science Degree in 2001. She is now 28 years of age and is the Founder of BOTS Entertainment, which is based upon the Battle of the Sexes: Men vs. Women in Singing, Rapping and Poetry Talent Showcase. The Battle began as an online talent competition, and has been held in the city of Detroit nearly three years. The company has gained support from various corporations to include the Detroit Pistons, Globe Trekker TV, Radio One, Rolling Out Magazine, Marshall Field’s-Fairlane, Pure Detroit, and many more.
After being endorsed by the Detroit Free Press, Michigan Teamsters Union, a host of other community organizations and leaders, Washington’s bid for a city of Detroit City Council seat ended on August 2, 2005, with 5, 680 votes. Although it was her first time attempting a position in public office, she remains motivated to continue the work of restoring the city to the great metropolis it once was and is destined to be.
Washington has been awarded various awards to include: EMU Alumnus of the Year (2006), MLK Humanitarian Award, Gold Medallion Student Employee of the Year, Leader and Programmer of the Year, Black Faculty Alumni Association Footprints Award, V-98.7 Acts of Kindness Award and more.