Students abroad with Good Citizen Year

You Never Know What Lies Across the Ocean

Travel to Africa

Mickeeya Harrison, Senior Fellows Project Coordinator, AYLF

I received a message last week on my LinkedIn account from Stella, a friend that I met while in Ghana when I was 16 years old. She messaged to share that she gave birth to her first child, a boy, she named Michael. She was happy to also share that she began classes at university and that she always remembered how I talked about school in my letters to her. Twenty years ago our friendship grew through handwritten letters and postcards, and we would wait weeks to receive a reply. Today, a little girl I met while playing basketball in Ghana, can reach me on LinkedIn and share how she is still impacted by our chance meeting and friendship as teenage girls.

My friendship with Stella was was born out of an opportunity whose power I never would have known had I not taken the chance to “just try it.” I considered myself a latchkey kid, with no brothers or sisters and a mom who worked two jobs to make ends meet. I came home from school one day in high school with a flyer about traveling abroad to West Africa. My stomach turned in knots at the thought of even asking my mom to pay for an opportunity like this because we could barely afford our own bills let alone a trip for me to go to West Africa! When I presented the crumpled flyer to my mother, she said “Mickee, just try it! We will see what happens!” And so we did.We went to the information sessions and learned about scholarship opportunities, how to reach out to our support systems for assistance with my shots and passport and all of the cost for these important pieces to travel abroad.. Six months later,I was boarding a plane to Accra, Ghana, where I would spend my summer learning about the trans-Atlantic slave trade, hiking through rainforests, learning about my heritage, and gaining lifelong friendships.

You never know what opportunities lie across the ocean if you do not try.

You never know what opportunities lie across the ocean if you do not try. That’s why I share this story from my own transformative experience in Ghana: I have the joy of stewarding a similar opportunity for Fellows within the Aspen Young Leaders Fellowship (AYLF) network.

Back of AYLF Staff member Mickeeya walking across a hanging bridge in Ghana
Mickeeya Crossing Bridge Ghana 2000

Mickeeya crossing a hanging bridge in the jungle in Ghana, 1998.

Image of Mickeeya with a friend in Ghana with swapped shoes on.
Mickeeya Harrison and Student in Ghana 2000

Mickeeya swapping shoes with a friend in Ghana, 1998.

Image of Stella, Mickeeya's friend in Ghana, with whom she still keeps in touch.
Stella Mickeeya Friend in Ghana 2000

Mickeeya's friend Stella in Ghana, 1998.

The Opportunity
Global Citizen Year and Aspen Young Leaders Fellowship are partnering together to provide a full scholarship for one AYLF Fellow or Senior Fellow under the age of 21 to spend a semester in South Africa through the Take Action Lab. This is an amazing opportunity for someone to learn more about themselves, to engage in South African culture and to become more globally aware and connected.

What’s the Take Action Lab?
It’s an immersive learning program where students learn how to create a meaningful impact on human rights issues during a semester in South Africa.

How Do I Apply?
Fill out the application for Global Citizen Year today!
Applications are due April 19, 2024.

Reach out to Mickeeya Harrison, Senior Fellows Project Coordinator for AYLF at or Rebecca Warren directly with GCY at