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James Walter Doyle: Co-Founder of Kids N Culture

Kids N Culture brings underserved students in New York City on free, experiential learning trips around the world. Cohorts are composed of students who are traditionally left behind in other programs and the trips focus on bringing lessons from the classroom into the real world. The organization brings students and educators together to build leadership skills and create once in a lifetime memories. Learn more here!

Can you tell me about the inspiration behind Kids N Culture?


When I was in high school in a small town in Florida, I had the opportunity to travel to Greece with my school and it totally changed my life. I realized I wanted to do more things that challenged and inspired me. When I did Teach for America and ended up in New York, I realized that a lot of the same kids were getting selected for the out-of-city trips available to students. The students who academically excel and who do a lot of activities are chosen, and the other kids are left behind. We wanted to create trips for those kids. The first trip was doing Hurricane Katrina relief and it was phenomenal, the kids came back and crushed their classes and had a new motivation. Those first years we raised money in any way we could and only took kids from the school where I worked. Once we became a non-profit, we took it city-wide.


What does a Kids N Culture trip entail?


All of our trips are free for students. We want the places that we go to reflect the diversity that we have in New York, and we change up the destinations. All students participate in evergreen lessons ahead of the trip, where they interact with the other students they’ll be traveling with and learn what to expect. The cohorts come from all boroughs of New York City to allow kids to engage with students from other backgrounds in an academic setting. We work with student travel companies to build itineraries that involve things like cooking lessons, visiting places of worship, language lessons, and learning about the environmental impact in the area. We take topics that students are learning about in the classroom and apply it to a new culture and destination.


What are the benefits of experiential learning?


Since we focus on the opportunity gap and kids who are otherwise overlooked, there’s a significant jump in confidence, conflict resolution, and their academic motivation. Writing and public speaking are big parts of our curriculum, the students journal their whole experience. Students realize they have a voice and that they have stories worth writing down. A lot of our students have never left the country, or even the city, before, and it’s exciting for them to experience something new. The kids learn how to communicate about their own culture with others and learn about areas of the world they wouldn’t otherwise see.


What kinds of places do you take students?


Our first trip this year is to the UAE, where we’ll visit multiple cities, visit museums, interact with the Bedouin people, learn about architecture, and learn about the impact of oil. Later this year, we are doing a deep-dive into literature and theater by visiting a few cities in the UK. We want to head back to Asia next year, and have trips planned to Japan and Vietnam. We’ve previously been to places like Ecuador, India, Peru, and more. I get to go on a good amount of the trips, and it always feels like a totally new place even if it’s somewhere we’ve been before. It’s such a cool and inspiring experience traveling with the students and seeing a different culture and country through their eyes.

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