Connecticut College recently honored three members of the community with the 2015 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Service Awards, conferred each year on those who exemplify and uphold the legacy of Dr. King's work.
Like most college students, Jesse Friedman ’02 found his semester abroad to be life-changing. But Friedman’s time in Greece during his junior year inspired him to take an unusual leap: after graduation, Friedman moved to Southeast Asia, where he spent three years teaching English as a second language.
His second experience with total cultural immersion taught him the importance of recognizing oneself as a “global citizen who is a part of something bigger.” He added, “Had I gained this lesson before I went to college, I would have been such a different person.”
This philosophy is the foundation for Triskallian Tours, a company Friedman founded to give high school students the opportunity to live (briefly) abroad before college.
Friedman combines his experience as a seasoned traveler with his degrees in government and political science to provide teens with a two-week trip to Costa Rica and Panama that is one-third cultural immersion, one-third community service and one-third surfing.
Friedman hopes to make important changes in the communities they visit - and in the lives of the students he leads - through Triskallian Tours. While his post-graduate travels certainly inspired his line of work, Friedman said Connecticut College fueled his desire to travel in the first place. He believes that without the College’s emphasis on study away programs, “I probably wouldn’t have stopped and been like, I should do this.”
While traveling is both fun and meaningful for Friedman, he says one of the most important parts of being a global citizen is “how you come back and apply it.” This is central to the mission of Triskallian Tours – a company named for a curved, three-pronged symbol that, he said, embodies the idea that “everything comes back to its origins.”
“To travel is one thing, but to travel, learn and apply these lessons to one’s life at home, that’s what it’s all about,” he said.
When Friedman isn’t leading trips in Central America, he’s in his Dennis, Mass., office, planning future travels and working to expand the company. He’d like Triskallian Tours to go to other countries, including Brazil, Thailand and Ecuador, with different programs in each place. But one constant will be the focus on community service.
“That’s one of the coolest parts about traveling, helping people out in the community,” he said.
Over the past three summers in Costa Rica, Friedman has built a special bond with the local community, which, he said, “recognizes that (the students) are there to make an impact.”
By translating his education and experiences into a meaningful career, Friedman has found the kind of job satisfaction that many only dream of. He said of his annual travels with high school students, “There's a lot that goes into this that people don’t see, but I just sit here with a smile on my face for four months.”
-Arielle Shipper ’10
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