Opportunities to study abroad are often reserved for college students who can afford such trips. So imagine how exciting it must have been when nine of Reality Changers’ low-income high school students heard the news that they had been selected to participate in what we believe is the world’s first foreign exchange program to take place at a presidential library.
Thanks to a partnership with UCSD Extension, Reality Changers board member (and 55th President of Mexico) Vicente Fox, and the ASU+GSV Summit, this program that has been in the works for many years finally came to full fruition. Since 2016, over three dozen students from the poorest villages surrounding President Fox’s library in central Mexico have participated alongside scores of Reality Changers’ students participating in Academic Connections, a three-week residential program at UC San Diego where high school students earn real college-prep credit.
In 2018, Reality Changers sent students for the first time to stay at Fox’s boyhood hacienda (now a destination hotel) where they took a class on International Business and Culture. With cohorts from both sides of the border seeing how the other side lives, stereotypes were broken down and lifelong friendships were built.
These students either live in the toughest neighborhoods of San Diego or in villages where the nearest stoplight may be an hour away, yet they all earned college credit from one of the top universities in the world in between spending downtime at La Jolla Shores and munching on scrumptious midnight tacos for just nine pesos apiece. Wow, what a summer!