The IGLTA Foundation recently selected the recipients of its first Building Bridges Scholarships, a diverse group that hails from five different countries in South America, Africa, and North America.
Each will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association’s Annual Global Convention in Chicago, May 2-4.
The program was created to support the next generation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) travel professionals. Scholarships went to three hospitality/tourism students; one individual representing a destination or event that is committed to developing an LGBT following; and one individual representing a small business in the LGBT tourism sector that is launching community engagement or sustainability initiatives.
“I am really excited to see the geographical diversity of these winners,” said Charlie Rounds, IGLTA Foundation Board Chair and Managing Director for Brand g Vacations. “This is a very important first step for the IGLTA Foundation to promote LGBT travel globally.”
Scholarship recipients will have the opportunity to meet and network with other travel industry professionals from around the world, attend seminars and educational sessions as well as participate in volunteer activities hosted by the Foundation.
Meet this year’s Building Bridges Scholarship recipients:
• Student: Kathy Eow is studying Hospitality and Tourism Management at Florida International University and looks forward to the day when the LGBT community isn’t pigeonholed by the “niche market” label.
• Student: Teddy Frank is making his first visit to the United States from his home in Liberia, where he is enrolled in airline studies and supports the Stop AIDS in Liberia organization.
• Student: Kleber de Oliveira da Silva is pursuing a master’s degree in tourism and hospitality at Brazil’s University of Vale do Itajai. This is also his first U.S. visit.
• Small Business: Aaron Paiva Leyton runs Peru Magia y Mysterio, offering tours that explore what it means to be Peruvian, the country’s history, and its culinary arts. He recently started an LGBT section on Peru’s official website: TravelFabulousPeru.com.
• Emerging Destination: Jermain Tjin-A-Koeng is from the Republic of Suriname. His organization, LGBT PLATFORM Suriname, works to raise the profile of the LGBT community in his country – he sees the connections made through travel as particularly beneficial to their goals.“We were thrilled by the volume, quality and range of deserving scholarship applications, which demonstrate a true global interest in LGBT travel,” said Steve Roth, IGLTA Foundation Board and Scholarship Committee member. “These five scholarship recipients represent the best of the best in their respective categories.”