BoldLeaders trip to Kenya postponed, but the explorations continue
After months of planning and fundraising, this year's BoldLeaders trip to Kenya has been grounded, thanks to threats of violence from the Somali militant group, Al-Shabaab. The Denver-based group had flights arranged and was within a week of departure when the U.S. Department of State and its embassy in Kenya decided that the trip had to be postponed for safety reasons.
As a result, BoldLeaders is now out $75,000 in fees and expenses. Ironically, Denver City Councilman Albus Brooks is currently in Kenya, leading a group of business and non-profit leaders and four Manual High School students; since it's not an official State Department program, it was allowed to proceed.
BoldLeaders, which was established in 2004 as a conflict-resolution program for Greek-speaking and Turkish-speaking students from the divided island of Cyprus, is a Denver-based, Fulbright-Hays funded organization. In 2009, BoldLeaders expanded from their annual Cyprus summit to include five programs: the Sub-Saharan Africa BoldLeaders Project, the Sub-Saharan African Youth Leadership Program, Youth Ambassadors, the Professional Fellows in Food Security Project and the American Youth Leadership Project. Each was designed to create new methods of interaction and understanding between participants through "alignment rather than agreement."
One way to do that? Travel. BoldLeaders has coordinated about fifteen international trips over the last eight years, both bringing foreign participants to this country and vice versa. Planning for the 25-day Kenya excursion began last year, when BoldLeaders applied for a grant from the State Department' Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for its American Youth Leadership Program.
Noah Hubbell BoldLeaders Brady Rhodes and Lexi Mussleman.
Originally authorized for thirty participants (27 students, 3 adults), the program met with such a positive response that the State Department authorized BoldLeaders to sign up more applicants for the trip if they paid a bare-bones fee. Seventeen did, before they all learned on June 14 that the trip was on hold, and perhaps cancelled for good.
BoldLeaders will now petition the State Department to recoup some of its losses through a cost amendment to its initial grant. While it's possible that the Kenya trip can be rescheduled, BoldLeaders cofounder Brady Rhodes says that the organization will have to raise $20,000 to $30,000 to cover the cost of the additional seventeen participants who'd signed on for the trip. BoldLeaders hopes to get the new trip reset for June or July of 2013.