Vanessa Payne

Alumni Ambassador
Photo of Vanessa Payne
Guatemala: Spanish Langauge Intensive
Los Angeles, CA

Hi guys! My name is Vanessa Payne and I live in the beautiful, sunny state of California. I am currently in my senior year of high school and my biggest passion is art (so much so that I plan on majoring in fine arts in college). In my free time, I love to watch movies, play beach volleyball and watch basketball. Over the past couple of months, I have experienced more adventures than I ever could’ve imagined and I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store for me. Hopefully, it will be filled with amazing conversations, beautiful scenery and good people – all of which I found during my trip with Dragons.


Craziest thing I have ever done…

I went flamenco dancing in Spain with my friend and a group of strangers we met that day.


My next big project…

Being an artist, I have been trying to figure out ways to merge my love for creating with my desire to bring awareness on global issues to my friends and family at home. Therefore, as part of my senior art show, I am dedicating my time to making a piece that tells the story of the different hardships and struggles facing our world today. A large part of it will also speak to the resilience of communities around the world that work every day to better the lives of themselves and their families.


If I had a year to burn…

I would go on trips all over the world teaching people English, learning about each culture that I find myself in, and helping communities that have faced hard times in any way that I could. I would also go to as many Bon Jovi concerts as possible (they only perform in abroad now).


Something I would tell prospective students…

Stepping out of your comfort zone to go on a month-long trip can be really scary. Especially when you are not familiar with where you are or the people around you. However, as cliché as it sounds, the strangers you meet at the airport will become your family and the adventures that you take will be incomparable to anything that you’ve ever experienced. You won’t be driving to different sights on tour busses. Instead, you’ll experience the country by way of learning the traditions and hearing the stories of the communities you stay with. You have the ability to learn how to weave or cook dinner with your host families, you have the ability take part in conversations that are bound to change your perspective, and over the course trip, you feel as though you have the power, knowledge and support to make real change – both abroad and at home. Dragons has opened me up to so many new perspectives, adventures, opportunities, and relationships. If you seek the opportunity to experience the same, definitely take a trip with WTBD.