Atlas Alumni: Meet Medhanit, One of Our 2015 Global Innovators!

Medhanit Felleke went on the Atlas 2015 Summer Project Trip to Croatia.  The high school student team traveled down the Dalmatian coast, visiting the cities of Hvar, Split, and Dubrovnik.  They also spent time on the island of Korcula, meeting with local business leaders and learning how to make a sustainable plan for the island’s economic growth. Medhanit is currently a junior at Nobles and Greenough High School in Dedham, MA. K: Hi Medhanit, thanks for agreeing to speak with me about your experience with Atlas Workshops!

M: No problem! I’m happy to talk about my time in Croatia.

K: So, the Croatia trip focused on economics in Korcula — and small business and growth in Croatia. But describe the trip from your perspective.  What did you get out of it?

M: From my perspective, I think we both worked hard and had a lot of fun. I really believe in our tourism idea and think it could do a lot for Korcula once we work on it some more with the tourism board there. For this trip, I had to really step out of my comfort zone. Going to a new country for the first time, with new people, doing things I had never imagined myself doing, was an incredibly challenging and rewarding experience. There was so much I attempted and accomplished that I could never picture myself doing before. I got to start practicing a new language, try all sorts of new food, like ćevapčići (Balkan sausages), and learn about a totally new culture with such a rich history. I’ve always loved traveling, even though I can never really do as much of it as I’d like, and this was a great opportunity to start.

K: What made Atlas stand out from other teen travel programs?

M: Atlas Workshops definitely stood out from other programs because it was a chance to make a unique kind of difference. Very few programs allow you to create and work on an idea that actually has the potential and possibility to be implemented, instead of doing it solely “for the experience.”

K: What was your group’s final project about?

M: Our group’s idea is titled “The Coral Kingdom” and we used the island’s already present coral jewelry industry and expanded on it. We explored the possibility of tourists diving for their own coral, either with a professional diver, or they could spend the time to earn a diver’s license in order to dive by themselves. With that coral, they could attend jewelry making classes, learn about the mythology of the coral in the beautiful Adriatic Sea, and a whole host of other activities.

K: What was the most rewarding part of the trip?

M: The most rewarding experience was knowing that I helped create something that has the potential to make an impact. As I mentioned before, there are many programs that allow you to work on something, but only for the experience, nothing else. Gaining experience is all well and good, but what’s the point if you can’t do anything with what you’ve worked hard on?

K: Was there any time during the trip when you felt frustrated?

M: There wasn’t really any time I felt frustrated, we all contributed in different ways, and I believe I made a significant contribution to my group.

K: So how did the trip impact you exactly?

M: The trip definitely impacted me positively. I’m now more comfortable working with near strangers, I’m more willing to take risks and try new things, and I’ve definitely come back to school with more knowledge and understanding of the world around me. Since it was my first time leaving the United States, I’ve been able to explore the world outside the small, Massachusetts bubble I’ve spent most of my life in.

K: What would you tell someone who is considering going on this trip?

M: I would tell someone considering this trip to stop considering whether or not they should take this risk and just use this opportunity. It really was a once in a lifetime experience and that person would be hard pressed to find something similar. I had one of the most memorable times of my life, and I’m so grateful for those two weeks.

We’re excited to be leading four Global Innovators’ trips this summer, in Croatia, India, Scandinavia, and Berlin & Prague.  To learn more about our Atlas Workshops Global Innovators’ Trips, check out ourwebsite!