This Teacher Is On A Mission To Take Underprivileged NYC Students To Spain

A Brooklyn teacher wants to take his students on the field trip of a lifetime. 

Eric Jordan is raising money to take about 12 black and Hispanic students from Frederick Douglass Academy VII on an eight-day tour of Spain in July. Jordan believes this trip could be life-changing for the high schoolers, especially since they’re from one of the most underprivileged neighborhoods in New York City, Brownsville.

Nearly 40 percent of the families in Brownsville live below the poverty line. Eighty-three percent of students, which is made up of 88 percent black students and 11 percent Hispanic students, are poor or at risk. This means the school qualifies for Title I, which entitles it to resources necessary to address education funding inequity. Students with disabilities make up of 27.6 percent of the population.

Jordan, who’s been an English teacher at the school for 10 years, is taking students on the school’s first international trip in four years. He chose Spain because he believed he could teach the students a lot about the country since he lived there for 10 months. He said that he wants to take the students out of their comfort zones and show them that they can go anywhere. 

“For a number of reasons, that’s something that our students aren’t shown. I think that’s true whether you’re talking about students in the inner city, black students, students of color, students who come from poor neighborhoods and I think in Brownsville, you kind of have, it’s like a triple whammy,” he told HuffPost. “[I]t’s not something that’s true for every student I teach but for many of them... it’s almost like this trip is something that they’re not supposed to do, it’s almost like it’s prohibited to them and I just think that’s wrong. So here we are.”

Most of the students Jordan is taking on the trip have never owned a passport, let alone been out of the country. For all of them, it will be the first time they cross the Atlantic Ocean.

The trip isn’t totally free for the teens, however. They’re required to pay $605, or 20 percent of the total cost, to ensure those who attend are invested in the trip. Students also must be in good academic standing. 

In December, Jordan created a GoFundMe to raise $34,000 to fund the trip. Thanks to local businesses, alumni and Black Travel Movement, Jordan has raised more than $19,000.

Jordan will be taking the kids to Barcelona, Zaragoza and Madrid. During the trip, students will learn via scavenger hunts, tours through cathedrals and a Flamenco dance class. They’ll also receive lesson on the country’s history before they take off in July. The teacher said he wants to teach them something he learned while traveling ― a lesson they can’t get in a textbook.

“The idea that I had that there’s no place in the world where I don’t belong, I had to go there to get that experience... I wanna offer that. And it will be a pretty unforgettable kind of thing. I don’t think anyone will be quite the same after this trip.”

Watch FDA VII’s video above to learn more.

Taryn Finley Black Voices Associate Editor, The Huffington Post

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