Sydney Johnson, a Chicago native and graduated senior from Hampshire High School, is the inaugural winner of GLA’s STA Flight Voucher Contest.
Please note that this Q&A has been edited and condensed for clarity. Featured photos are from Sydney’s trip to Bali, which happened right after this interview was conducted.
GLA: Which GLA program are you on? And is it your first time with GLA?
Sydney: Bali – I leave on Monday! First GLA program. I just graduated a few weeks ago. I’m starting at DePaul in Chicago in the fall, majoring in international studies and sociology (did psych program at American University last summer).
GLA: How did you end up getting the STA travel voucher? Were you excited when you won?
Sydney: I’m not positive how it happened exactly – my mom handled it! I was very excited – I was like Mom, what is this? And she told me about it, and I was very excited.
GLA: What made you decide to do this program with GLA in Bali? Were you inspired by anything specific, or are you just looking for a fun summer experience?
Sydney: I found it researching the Peace Corps, which I’m interested in doing after college. Fundraised a lot! And I loved the idea of teaching English. This is a new experience for me, but it’s definitely something I want to continue doing.
GLA: What part of volunteering and/or giving back of yourself moves you the most?
Sydney: It’s much more fulfilling giving back to people – anything where you give back to the community. I want to be able to help people, travel, and see the world.
GLA: What do your parents think about you going on a GLA program this summer?
Sydney: They didn’t think I’d be able to do it this summer, but I kept pushing the subject and raised money for it, and had the flight covered through the STA voucher.
GLA: What’s your ultimate goal for giving back to the world, given your clear interest in being involved with communities-in-need?
Sydney: Building people skills and putting lesson plans together teaches you how to cooperate with each other and overcome small differences.
GLA: What are your interests and passions, both inside and outside of school?
Sydney: I’m involved in National Honor Society, a member of a dance company, and taught dance (Jazz, contemporary, hip-hop, and ballet) to ages 3-15.
GLA: If you could sum up your life philosophy, what would it be?
Sydney: Open-mindedness is what I value over everything. And by traveling, you get to think differently, and see things a different way than your own, which makes you a more well-rounded person.
Thanks Sydney for your inspiring words, and congrats on your fully covered flight to Bali for your first GLA program!