O.A.T. travelers Terry and Nancy Dignan help put Kenyan students through High School
When seasoned travelers Terry and Nancy Dignan are deciding where and how to travel, they’re not interested in megaliners with their glamorous casinos and flashy entertainment. The East Troy, Wisconsin, couple looks for a travel provider that offers learning and discovery. So it’s natural that they have chosen O.A.T. and Grand Circle for 11 trips to date, with two more trips already booked.
It’s no wonder the Dignans are interested in educating themselves, since they both have a background in educating others. Nancy was an elementary school teacher, and Terry also started his career as a public school educator.
Nancy’s interest in travel was sparked by her first-grade teacher, who visited Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve and came back raving about the Maasai people, whom she described as the most interesting, most beautiful people she’d ever come in contact with. “I never forgot that,” Nancy says.
So it’s no surprise that Nancy and Terry chose The Best of Kenya & Tanzania as one of their O.A.T. adventures. During their visit to the village of Amboseli, they were impressed by the village chief, Chief Joseph, and his dedication to the education of the local children.
The Dignans have their own history of supporting the education of young women. When their daughter was in high school, they hosted first a Hungarian and then a Thai student in their home for a year. “Once you get exposed to people who have a different life experience than you do, you simply want to continue to do that,” says Terry.
Upon their return home from Kenya, the couple decided they wanted to help students in Amboseli, too. Prior to the opening of the Amboseli Lewis Secondary School in 2018—constructed with support from Grand Circle Foundation—students continuing on past primary school had to attend boarding school, at a cost of roughly $1,500 per year. The Dignans contributed four years’ tuition to support each of two young women, one of whom has graduated and whom they continue to support. In all, the Dignans have donated $12,000 to $15,000 toward the education of young women in Kenya through Grand Circle Foundation.
“It really isn’t so generous when you look at how much we Americans have and how little they have,” Terry says modestly. “It just comes back to the basic premise that education is the way to improve the standard of living. If it wasn’t for public school education, we wouldn’t be where we are. It’s as simple as that. If we’re not contributing to that education, what are we doing on this Earth?”
He adds that telling people what you’re going to do and then doing it is key to success. “O.A.T. does that when they put together their trips, and it’s the same thing with the Foundation.” he says. “They say they’re going to support schools, they say they’re going to support historical sites, and they do, and they encourage their travelers to support them also. I love that Grand Circle gets you into the schools, they give you the opportunity to support them, and yet, there is no excess pressure to do so.”