Chuck's First Plane Trip

Chuck's First Plane Trip

From Chuck Vaughn

I'm raising funds so that I will be able to participate in a study abroad trip taking place at my school to France. I'm happy to be graduating this May and would love for this trip to bookend my undergraduate experience.

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I don't do many things--the idea of vacationing or taking any sort of trip is foreign to me, always due to a lack of available time or money. I've never ridden a train (unless you count a light-rail) or plane, and the furthest I've been from Houston was during a childhood trip to Florida that is now all but blurred snapshots of memories. So when I was given this idea of going on a study abroad trip to France with the University of Houston-Downtown, my kneejerk reaction was to shrug it off and keep on walking.

Then I thought about it... Really mulled it over... And managed to change my mind. "I work hard," I thought, "so why not?

I am graduating this May with a Bachelor's of Arts in Communication Studies with a concentration in Drama, a Dean's List student for the past three years with aspirations for helping others feel as comfortable not only with their ability to communicate but with themselves as people. I went back to school after years worth of encouragement to do, having been ready to live on as a drop-out with hopes of landing an acting gig here or there. Instead, I am a leader around my campus and have gained more than I feel I am worthy, not only from the many books and research I've consumed but also the relationships formed and experiences gained.

This trip is a component of a class meant to explore the reciprocating impact and experiences of French culture on peoples of African descent. With an emphasis on the historical impact of transatlantic slavery and transatlantic migration, the curriculum the course incorporates African diasporic artistic productions and sociopolitical developments that have shaped France and French culture. Furthermore, the curriculum underscores how France has affected the artistic, social, and cultural direction of intellectuals throughout the Americas. While I initially took the course for the sole purpose of the opportunity to go abroad, I have found that there is still a lot that I can learn about myself as not only a Black man but a member of the working class as well as how closely those things intersect under the system in which we live. All of that to say, I am happy to have enrolled.

In addition to being in school I am also employed at two jobs, and also take whatever gigs may come my way so that I can have money to live, pay bills, and contribute to the needs of my step-mother when possible. 5 nights a week I am involved in some sort of performing: rehearsals for plays, practices for improv shows, actually IN those plays and improv shows, or supporting others in what they do... The list goes on. To top it all off? All of these things I get to by riding my bike and using public transit. 

As it stands now, there isn't much I can do with the time and resources available to me to pay for this trip. The $4,550 figure is a daunting one, and while I know that I will be receiving scholarships and grants from the school (thanks, high GPA) the school has made it clear that those awards will not be enough.  Included in the $4,550 is airfare, accommodations, some meals, transportation in France, and the entrance fees to activities and excursions included as part of the study abroad trip, all arranged through the university. 

As much as I feel that I am a confident, comfortable person, asking for help takes me out of that confident, comfortable place. Still, it's been made clear to me that there are in my life that care and would like to be of aid. And so I've made it possible to help with this campaign. 

Thanks for reading all of this, and if you don't have the funds to help a simple share would mean the world (or a trip to another side of it) to me!


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