Brownsville teacher and students raise money for trip to Japan

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BROWNSVILLE, Brooklyn — A high school teacher and his group of students have met their fundraising goal for a school trip to Japan.

They started a GoFundMe page three months ago and over 1,200 donors later, along with determination and perseverance, raised enough money late tonight.

At Frederick Douglass Academy VII, in Brownsville – many students have never traveled outside of New York City – let alone to another continent. They certainly didn’t think they’d be doing it during their high school years. But that’s becoming a reality. English teacher Bijoun Jordan says he wants his students to have a sense of the world outside the box they already live in.

“Brownsville is a very disadvantaged neighborhood there are a lot of students that come from struggle,” said Jordan. “A trip like this doesn’t seem like it’s possible for them and it actually is if you form a plan, if we collaborate if we reach out. Especially for students from Brownsville this is an opportunity for them to see that if they find a way they can go anywhere in the world they wanna go.”

Jordan resurrected the school’s International Club. Last year it was a trip to Spain. This year Japan comes with a pretty hefty price tag. Nearly $60,000 for 17 students. An all-inclusive one week trip from July 2-9, to five cities, including Tokyo and Kyoto.

“I never been on a plane. I’m a true New Yorker, I never been on a plane before it’s like I’m excited but I’m scared too,” said Fermin Nadal, 17-year-old junior. “This is my first time traveling so it’s all new to me, I got my passport this year. I just want to thank everyone for supporting us and making this happen.”

“I’m really excited I can’t wait to go I’ve been counting down the days,” said junior Bomi Ojo.

The students are still responsible for coming up with $600 each. The trip is not just sightseeing, its steeped in educational value as well- part of the itinerary includes visiting other schools.

“They’ll be meeting black American ex-pats as well as interacting with them and finding out how did you move to this place and that place in the world and what is your experience like being an American or a black American living in Japan,” said Jordan. “The reason that we do this work is because we want to make something possible for these students, we want to expand our students’ horizons, e want them to have opportunities they would not have.”

“The experience was totally remarkable, I feel like the experience broadened pretty much my perspective on everything,” said senior Isaiah Deetjen, who went on the trip to Spain last year and will be going to Japan as well. “It’s an opportunity many should be granted and Mr. Jordan is doing a great job at giving us the opportunity.”

The official fundraising goal is $58,570. Any donations made beyond that amount will go towards next year’s trip. Mr. Jordan says he hopes it will become a yearly thing. He wants to do 6 continents in 6 years.

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