In September 2017, I had the honor of attending the White House Summit for Study Abroad and Global Citizenship, a two-day event co-hosted by Hostelling International USA (HI USA) and Partners of the Americas held in New York City at HI USA. The goal of the conference was to inspire a new generation to study abroad and experience the transformational power of travel. During the conference we learned about the abundance of funding options and scholarships available for students interested in studying abroad during college and beyond by various organizations. I had studied abroad myself in my early twenties and that experience profoundly changed my life. However, I understand how lucky I was to have that opportunity as not many people do.

The good news is that many organizations such as HI USA are working to help young Americans get out and explore the world. HI USA, a nonprofit, member organization founded on an enduring belief in the power of travel to foster a deeper understanding of people, places, and the world around has a wealth of programs and opportunities available to make it easier for young people to see the world. One amazing program currently being offered by HI USA, the nation’s leading hostel brand, is the Explore the World Scholarship which is now open to applications until March 2, 2019.

Explore the World Scholarships

HI USA created the Explore the World Travel Scholarships to help young adults aged 18-30 finance an international service or educational trip abroad. The total award given is $2,000 (split into two equal installments of $1,000) to go towards an international travel opportunity.

This is the fourth year of the program and in 2018, HI USA awarded 104 scholarships to young people across the U.S. so they could go learn Arabic in Jordan, volunteer in India and Vietnam, teach math in the Dominican Republic, or board a plane for the very first time to study abroad in Europe. Scholarship recipients have returned home from their travels with a profound sense of intercultural appreciation, and a renewed dedication to spreading the word about travel and tolerance at home.

In 2019, HI USA will be giving out 110 scholarships to would-be travelers around the country, aged 18-30, who need a little extra help along the way.

Program Eligibility 

The basic program requirements and eligibility to apply for the Explore the World Scholarships include the following:
  • Must be 18-30, with financial need, and live or go to school in one of 14 metro areas (select counties in CA, DC/Baltimore, Chicago, New Orleans, Boston, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York City, Portland, Austin, Houston and Richmond).
  • Should have an educational or service trip already in mind but cost is getting in the way.
  • Application deadline is March 2, 2019.

More details on eligibility can be found at .  Check out the Explore the World Program Details section for further information about the eligibility requirements, application process, and program requirements.

Success Stories of Past Recipients

In today’s interconnected world, understanding other cultures and making connections is critical to promoting world peace, stability and a happier planet for all. Traveling has a profound impact on both the traveler and the people they meet along the way. Traveling opens your mind and your heart to differences. It fuels your curiosity and passion for other cultures and places. It helps you understand the world and puts your own identity in perspective. But most of all, it builds connections and fuels your desire to become a global citizen and lifelong explorer.

Here is what a four past recipients of Explore the World Scholarships have to say about their own experiences.

Ritu Singh, New York City, NY

As a 2018 HI USA Explore the World scholarship recipient, last summer, Ritu volunteered in India and taught a class of third-graders in an under-resourced school. These students taught her to be grateful for everything she has, and she will always remember them, especially as she pursues her career in teaching.

It was my first time out of the country. This journey was also deeply personal for me as I was able to learn more about my own culture and connect to my roots! It was a life-changing journey!

HI USA Explore the World Scholarship

Ritu Singh of New York City in India

Bianca Uzoma, Austin, TX

As a 2018 HI USA Explore the World scholarship recipient, Bianca worked with an amazing group of healthcare providers in South Africa. The study abroad program in Cape Town allowed her to shadow healthcare professionals and educate communities on practicing healthy habits. It was eye-opening and inspiring!

My biggest lesson was that life is much more than my personal struggles…it’s about people and spreading love everywhere you go. This trip sparked a fire in me to do so much more in my medical career and in the hearts of people. My life will never be the same!

HI USA Explore the World Scholarship

Bianca Uzoma of Austin, Texas in South Africa

Rula Thabata, New Orleans, LA

Rula is a political science major who is deeply passionate about social issues and volunteering in her community. The HI USA Explore the World travel scholarship enabled Rula to study abroad in Ireland last summer. Immersing herself in the rich culture and history in Ireland, she describes her experience as “a life-changing catalyst for exploration.”

My experience abroad has helped me to advocate for greater independence and self-sufficiency for others. I continue to work where it matters most to me and realize the importance of community being anywhere you make it, even thousands of miles away from home. It also means making spaces home for others and them feeling included.

HI USA Explore the World Scholarship

Rula Thabata, New Orleans, LA in Ireland

Rodolfo Gonzalez, Los Angeles, CA

As a 2018 HI USA Explore the World scholarship recipient, last summer, Rodolfo travelled abroad for the first time in his life! During his time in India, he volunteered with a non-profit organization and taught literacy to children, while learning hands-on about the disparities in education and health.

The children taught me so much…although life is hard for them, they look forward to going to school every day – something I’ve taken for granted at times. In India, I stepped out of my comfort zone and Iearned lessons that will impact my personal life and future career as a peace officer.

HI USA Explore the World Scholarship

Rodolfo Gonzalez of Los Angeles, CA in India

Why it is matters

In my early twenties, I had the opportunity to study abroad and spent eight months in France. My time in Paris was one of significant growth and transformation. My immense curiosity for understanding the world and where I fit in inspired me every single step of the way. It was a time before the internet so my contact with my family and the news back home was minimal. Instead, I sent hand-written letters, called once a month and read Le Monde and the International Herald Tribune for my news. I immersed myself in French life and culture and for the first time in my life I felt like a global citizen more than an American.

When I left France to return back to school, a part of me was still there and I never once gave up my desire to see the world and build new connections. Today, I truly call myself a global citizen and I strongly believe in the transformative power of travel to make the world a better place. It is my sincere wish that anyone who wants to travel can and aren’t held back. I am grateful that organizations such as HI USA are working to get more young Americans out into the world.

About Hostelling International USA (HI USA)

Hostelling International USA (HI USA) is a nonprofit, member organization founded on an enduring belief in the power of travel to foster a deeper understanding of people, places, and the world around.  HI USA promotes a dynamic community of global citizens who have the wisdom and humanity to actively make the world a better place.  As the nation’s leading hostel brand, HI USA hosts more than 1 million overnights annually across more than 50 hostels, with guests from more than 100 countries.  For over 80 years, HI USA has provided a network of affordable hostels in converted mansions, reinvented lighthouses, and historic urban buildings all across the country. Visit www.hiusa.orgf or more information.


    1. Yes it is a really cool program isn’t it? Its amazing how many scholarships they are offering too! So many lives will be impacted by it.

      1. Thanks! If you know anyone who wants to apply, please feel free to share and spread the word!

  1. Studying abroad is always a valuable experience. It gets the eyes up for how people live in different parts of the world, results in more understanding between people, and of of course impacts the knowledge of the student in quite a different way that staying close to home. I studied abroad myself (many years ago) although the other way around, in the US, since I came from Europe.

    1. Thanks for reading and sharing your words of wisdom Otto. Yes, it is such a life changing experience. Where did you study in the US?

      1. 🙂 I bet it was phenomenal. New York is such an amazing city. I’d love to be able to someday rent a place for a month and just explore!

  2. Just about the time I turned 20, I spent almost a year traveling around Europe (and staying in many a hostel.) What an experience that was! I was blessed to be able to do it and I always appreciate that my parents helped me pay for it and let me going between my junior and senior years in college. Priceless!


    1. Thanks for sharing your story Janet! Yes, I feel the exact same way. It is a life-changing experience.

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