100 STORIES OF IMPACT

"Study Abroad" with a Twist

Marina Lee with students in Malawi

Photo: Envoys

Envoys co-founder Marina Lee (center) speaks with students on a trip to Malawi

While study abroad programs have long existed in education, Luis Enrique Garcia, Ed.M.’07, Marina Lee, Ed.M.’07, and Seth Leighton, Ed.M.’07, had a different idea: What if student travel wasn’t just about personal experience, but instead focused on creating a better understanding of the world and its challenges?  


By fostering student travel that empowers young people, Envoys seeks to build global citizens and global solutions.


Their vision of higher standards for educational travel was inspired during their time at HGSE — focusing on thoughtful engagement in an increasingly interconnected world. It ultimately led to the 2011 creation of Envoys, a company that pushes the boundaries of global education by working directly with innovative schools, teachers, families, and students to develop customized international programming that educates students to think critically about the world around them, discover their passions, and act on issues of global significance.

Today, Envoys is a leading operator of experiential learning programs aimed at developing global competency in students. Envoys has led more than 10,000 students on its trips and exposed young people to valuable experiences like consulting with “on the ground” NGOs, the U.S. State Department, and the United Nations.  

For the Envoys founders, getting students engaged in international opportunities while they are young is all about building a future where young people don’t exacerbate global problems, but help solve them.

“It’s important for us to model the global citizenship we wish to imbue in our students,” Leighton told HGSE in 2014. “Appreciating the opportunities we have is important, but it is equally important that we appreciate the responsibility we have to each other, and the common humanity that allows us to work and grow together.”

Professor Fernando Reimers, who worked with the founders as students and now is on Envoys’ board of advisers, applauds the Envoys mission to create educational travel programs that empower, challenge, and inspire students to become better citizens of the world through the transformational power of experiential global education.

“Providing students high-quality opportunities to explore global challenges, immersing them in local context, and partnering with local communities, the experiences Envoys designs and leads are inspired by the aspiration to empower young people to unleash their potential to make the world better,” he says. – Jill Anderson

Learn More and Connect

Read about the founding of Envoys.

Learn about the professional education opportunity, Think Tank on Global Education: Empowering Global Citizens.

From Usable Knowledge: How educators can encourage students to become global citizens.