The Dreams of a Young World Traveler

Garrett Collins wants to affect change around the globe.

Posted: 03/05/2013 04:00 PM EST

Garrett Collins wakes up every morning to read the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal. He’s fluent in French, plays the flute and is going to Kenya this summer to help build a community center in Mombasa. (He's been to London, Paris and Brussels, too.)

For a ninth grader, those are a lot of accomplishments. And now he’s being rewarded with a trip to Disney World, as part of the Disney Dreamers Academy.

Hosted by Steve Harvey and Essence magazine, the Disney Dreamers Academy, which starts Thursday, is a four-day workshop for teens at the Walt Disney World Resort. The students — or Dreamers — are motivated and inspired by a host of entertainers and motivational speakers including Terrence J, Yolanda Adams and Chef Jeff Henderson.

“He likes what he likes and he’s not ashamed to like what he likes,” said Diane Collins, Garrett’s mother. “If he doesn’t know something, he will search it out and find it out. I love that about him.”

One of his early mentors was former Rep. Edolphus Towns, from New York’s 10th congressional district in Brooklyn, whom he says was inspirational because he was so in tune with community needs.

“It’s interesting to me how people think and how you can affect someone’s life and help them for the better,” Garrett said. “With the government, you can always find a way to help somebody.”

In school, Garrett is fascinated by economics. Upon graduating from Berkeley Carroll School in Brooklyn, New York, he hopes to attend the London School of Economics or the University of Pennsylvania.

“I like how you can see how the events of the world will always have an effect on everyone’s life,” he said.

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