Alumni Spotlight: Jeff Hyer

Jeff is a passionate creator with a travel bug. His AFS Global Prep trip to Kenya gave him his first taste of international travel and inspired his wanderlust for the world. Aside from being a university student, he creates travel content for tourism companies and a personal travel blog.

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Why did you choose this program?

I always dreamed of going to Africa. With a passion for animal conservation that started at a very young age, I started to do some research for a summer program involving travel, wildlife conservation, and cultural immersion. Experiencing the wilds of Africa at my young age seemed far out of reach until I discovered the AFS Global Prep Kenya trip. I sprung on the opportunity, applied, was accepted, and immediately started packing my suitcase!

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The program is run by AFS-USA. This organization had several representatives at my high school. Traveling to Africa can be a bit more challenging to prepare for compared to other places in the world, but AFS walks you through the steps. They organize what is required of you before your adventure. Receiving a visa in advanced, getting required vaccinations, and the program itinerary are all steps they walk you through.

The program starts at JFK airport, so students who don't live in NYC have to organize their own flights to this airport on the program start date.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

You are going to experience an entirely new world. Things you notice might not be what you're used to. Just know that whatever you see is not right, not wrong; it’s just different. You will adapt to the lifestyle quickly as long as you have a positive and excitable attitude. Experiencing this new place and way of life will benefit you forever.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

This program is two weeks in length. Four nights of this duration are with a host family that will invite you into the ultimate cultural immersion.

Most of the days are spent waking up at a hostel or hotel with the AFS group and embarking to new places around Kenya. One day it might be feeding giraffes at the Giraffe Centre, or seeing baby elephants at David Sheldrick's Elephant Orphanage. Another might be spent driving through the spectacular Maasai Mara National Reserve. Each day is new, exciting, and amazing in every way!

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I suppose my biggest fear for this trip was spending four days and nights with a completely unfamiliar family on the other side of the world. You know their names and short bios before your stay, but you don't really know what you're getting into.

In the end, it was spectacular. I had a great experience bonding with my new family. Each household is different with a wide variety of characters living within it! The other students on the trip agree that this ended up being one of the best parts of the trip. I truly got to understand the way of life in East Africa, and I can't wait to reunite with my family one day!

How was it like travelling to Africa?

Africa might feel like a world away. It might seem like it's impossible to travel to and go on a real life safari but let me tell you, it is very much so possible. Once you arrive and feel the African sun, it becomes a reality that you – YES, YOU – are living the African travel dream!

I am forever grateful for the AFS Global Prep Kenya trip for introducing me to this new world and sparking my new found love for East Africa. I most definitely plan to return to this place and reunite with my new friends and family. I got to see animal conservation on a real world level and live my travel dream! So can you.