Not many 16-year-olds get to sail the world, but Alysha Bacus might just get the opportunity - and get school credit for it.
The bright-eyed Grade 11 student at Kwantlen Park Secondary is one of 60 Canadian students accepted to the Class Afloat program, a school at sea that teaches high school courses while docking in exotic countries. Bacus hopes to spend 10 months on-board the Sorlandet, a 1927 Norwegian ship, visiting about 20 ports thousands of kilometres from here.
But the trip comes with a $50,000 price tag, most of which is tuition. Bacus' family has gathered $10,000, and since July, Bacus has been actively fundraising the other $40,000.
"I'm over halfway now, actually," said an enthusiastic Bacus. "I have gotten donations everywhere when I talk to people. I also have my website up and I've gotten a lot of online donations."
As of press time, Bacus has raised $26,824, enough to pay for the first semester. She said she's recycled more than $1,700 worth of bottles and sold more than $2,000 worth of chocolates.
Her family has held bake sales, pub nights and movie showings to raise every last cent she needs for the trip.
"Strangers' generosity is absolutely amazing," said Bacus.
She has also applied for a partial scholarship, though the Class Afloat website is unclear how much it is worth and she won't know until May if she'll receive it. Money aside, Bacus speaks with the confidence that she will be setting sail in September.
"(My itinerary) hasn't been posted, but I know I'll be starting in Toronto," she said, adding that there will be stops in Quebec and Nova Scotia soon after. "We'll be crossing the Atlantic to the Azores, which is a group of islands off of Portugal. I don't know (where) after that - all I know is it'll be ending in Norway, which means I'll be graduating in Norway."
Out of all the nations in the world, Bacus is most excited to go to Morocco and take in everything the North African country has to offer.
"There's a port program where you go spend a night in the Sahara Desert, and to me, from the beginning of Class Afloat, it's one of the things I've really wanted to do," she said. "It just sounds amazing to me to be able to go watch the sunset in the Sahara and ride camels."
Bacus admitted she doesn't have much sailing experience, but she's not daunted by the responsibility of navigating the waters while also taking classes like history, biology and political science.
"It's pretty common with Class Afloat not to have sailing experience," she said. "They train you and you learn how to sail the traditional tall ships."
And the opportunity to travel the globe is too good for Bacus to pass up. She hopes the trip will instill a newfound confidence in herself and allow her to experience different cultures outside of the "North American bubble."
She has until November to raise the full tuition. If she raises more than $50,000, she will donate that money to the Class Afloat scholarship fund. Likewise, if she doesn't raise enough for the trip, she will donate that money to the fund.
To learn more about Bacus' fundraising campaign, visit dreamafloat.com. Donations can be made online at that website or by mail at 14030 Grosvenor Rd., Surrey, B.C. V3R 5G5.
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