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Bola Ibidapo – Study Abroad Student in Buenos Aires

May 28, 2024
by CEA CAPA Content Creator
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A study abroad student smiling and holding the Argentinian flag

Alumni Spotlight: Bola Ibidapo – Studying Abroad in Buenos Aires 

Bola Ibidapo is a Fall 2014  Buenos Aires CEA CAPA alum. After she returned from her time abroad, Bola went on to co-found the Too Fly Foundation, a nonprofit that helps underrepresented and under resourced students' study and travel abroad. Since 2016, Too Fly has helped over 300 students nationwide see the world. 

Below, we speak with Bola about her study abroad experience and how it led to the founding of the Too Fly Foundation, and share some highlights from a recent CEA CAPA-sponsored outreach event the Too Fly Foundation hosted in Georgia. 

A study abroad student smiling and holding the Argentinian flag

 

What inspired you to study abroad? 

Three parts. One was from a practical part as a Spanish minor. I knew wanted to study abroad somewhere Spanish speaking and get immersed in that language. “There’s nothing like learning a language in real time.” While I was initially interested in South Africa, I did some research, and decided on South America. The second part that inspired me was my older sister who studied abroad when I was in middle school. My third reason was my mom and that both of my parents are Nigerian immigrants. They were international students and explored and learned abroad. My mom is always saying, “spread your wings, travel far.” So, I thought, it’s my senior year, so it’s now or never and I’d never get that chance again.

A group of people posing for a photo

 

Describe your experience studying abroad in Buenos Aires. 

Buenos Aires is buzzy, people are up late, taking public transportation - it’s a real city. I love the uniqueness of Buenos Aires from a historical standpoint. It’s a different flavor from the rest of the continent. People say it’s “the Paris of South America,” and it’s from the various cultures that inspired the city like race dynamics, and the history behind that. Locals are very prideful people, in a good way. My favorite thing was asada, I’m from Texas so I know barbecue. My time there was interesting for multiple reasons. Living in the city, experiencing a different lifestyle, getting into the interests, dirty and good parts of history which I related to as a Black student in the U.S.

A group of people posing for a photo

 

What do you say to students wondering what it’s like to study abroad as a person of color? 

One thing I always say is, my experience is one I was one of two Black students in my overall program. That’s a dynamic in itself. I’m not seeing people that look like me which means I’m not having the same experience as them. It’s still that layer. In Buenos Aires, the dynamic of race is wild there. On a personal level kids would look at me and wave. One time we stumbled upon a multicultural fair ironically, and some people wanted to take pics with me even though I wasn’t part of it, an Afro-Argentine festival specifically for Afro-descents with music and food. We met a bunch of other Black students there. I thought, if we can build this equity gap for travelers, I wonder what that can do for the world. 

A person in a black hat and jacket smiling at the camera and making peace signs with both hands

 

What got you to Too Fly?  

It really started off as a simple conversation with my cofounder, Brandon. We bonded over shared experiences. Our conversation went something like, “we don’t just want them to see the world, we want the world to see them.” I graduated in 2015 and moved to Dallas. There were these networking groups and my cofounder shared that he was fundraising for passport awareness month for another entity. We talked about what we loved and the hard parts of studying abroad as one of the only Black students on our programs. I said, “You should have a happy hour and call it Too Fly Happy Hour Fundraising for Passports.” And that’s how Too Fly started - as a fundraiser first in Dallas, then New York, DC, Oklahoma, Los Angeles, and Chicago. It was cool because we wanted to find a way to give back and have a networking event. We gave everyone a name badge and said instead of writing your name, write down a country you want to visit. We were basically raising money for kids to get passports in different cities. Now it’s a very strong grassroots foundation. There were Black professionals we talked to, and they said the first time they took an airplane was in college and we realized we had to add offerings like larger travel grants and more outreach with Flight Academy. We went to high schools and middle schools with high energy pep rally style events to get students to think about travel. A lot of our scholars are the first to have a passport and travel.  

Thank you, Bola!

Two women sitting in chairs and looking at an audience out of sight of the camera

 

From left to right, Taisha Seablot from the Gordon-Zeto Center for Global Education at Spelman College and Bola Ibidapo from the Too Fly Foundation.

 

Highlights from the April 2024 Flight Academy Event

On Friday, April 19, 2024, the Too Fly Foundation, co-founded by CEA CAPA alum Bola Ibidapo, hosted its staple outreach at Dekalb Prep Academy. Over 50 students flooded into the school’s gym to experience the Too Fly Flight Academy. Flight Academy is a high-energy pep rally style outreach that sparks the idea of travel and the excitement of exploration in students, many of whom do not have access to travel opportunities. The first step to getting students to travel is planting a seed of global curiosity. At Flight Academy, students experienced a Q&A session with a commercial pilot, created their own dream travel activity, got a little competitive in travel tips and etiquette trivia, and spoke one-on-one with the Too Fly team and Spelman College about the importance of and opportunities for travel for young people. See the larger photo gallery here.

The Too Fly Foundation is a nonprofit that helps underrepresented and under resourced students' study and travel abroad. Since 2016, Too Fly has helped over 300 students nationwide see the world. 

Check out more photos from the event below! (Photo credits from the Flight Academy event below: Ernest Moments)

A group of students smiling at the camera and holding papers

 

A group of students smiling at the camera and holding papers

 

A person wearing a pilot uniform and a person holding a microphone sitting in chairs talking

 

A group of students laughing and holding papers

 

A group of students sitting on bleachers with raised hands looking away from the camera

 

A person holding a microphone for a student who is reading from a piece of paper



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