Growing up in a tough neighborhood, it can be hard to see a way out.
But Frederick Douglass Academy VII English teacher Bijoun Eric Jordan is opening the eyes of his Brooklyn students — many of whom rarely leave the neighborhood — by taking them overseas.
Jordan, 36, who has worked in city schools for 14 years, raised more than $42,000 to take Frederick Douglass students to Spain last summer.
And he has raised more than $50,000 to take another group of students to Japan this summer.
For his exceptional efforts to expose students to new cultures and experiences, Jordan is nominated for a New York Daily News Hometown Hero award.
He said it’s critical for kids at his school — who are all black and Hispanic and mostly come from economically disadvantaged families — to experience new communities firsthand.
“I want my students to see that black people travel everywhere,” Jordan said. “It’s not just places like Brownsville, Brooklyn, where we belong. We can hustle and get anywhere.”
Born in Manhattan but raised in Georgia, Jordan’s passion for teaching was sparked by a middle school teacher who inspired him to make the world a better place through education.
He returned to the city after college, becoming a teacher in hardscrabble central Brooklyn because students there face serious challenges in their daily lives, such as crime, poverty, addiction and mass incarceration.
“I felt like this was where I could make the biggest difference,” he said. “It really motivated me to go above and beyond.”
In 2017 he hatched a plan to revive the “International Club” at Frederick Douglass and raised enough money to take a group of 10 children to Spain, visiting Barcelona and Madrid over a weeklong trip.
This year he set a more ambitious goal to take 18 students on a weeklong tour of Japan, from Tokyo to Osaka.
The trip will cost $58,570 and Jordan has raised $50,305 so far. He hopes to raise the rest of the money through an online fundraiser.
Jordan said the trip will be a life-changing experience for his students.
“I want students to see for themselves the value that travel has,” he said. “When students put themselves in another world, they discover themselves at a new level.”