Jesse Friedman, M.A. ’09

Traveling the World

With an insatiable desire for adventure and unbounded enthusiasm, Jesse Friedman, who completed graduate studies last fall, has parlayed several loves into a unique global travel business.

In 2005 Friedman, who had lived in Thailand and Indonesia for three years, and a friend founded the adventure travel company Triskallian Tours.

“Spending time in those countries surfing, teaching English, living with the people, opened my eyes and taught me so much,” Friedman recalls. “I was a different person when I returned home. I felt if I could thrive over there, what couldn’t I do? And I knew that other young people could benefit from visiting places like the ones I had.”

Building Triskallian required him to convince reluctant parents to let their high school students travel halfway around the world chaperoned by someone they didn’t know. “It was tough at first,” said Friedman, whose URI mentor, Political Science Professor Maureen Moakley, calls him “one of the best teaching assistants we’ve ever had.”

The first summer Triskallian had only one customer. “Once we attracted a few more kids, they and their parents became ambassadors for the program,” Friedman said. “The parents recognize how special this is, and it makes a difference that the person who sold them the trip is there with their kids the whole time.”

For the past two years Triskallian has taken nearly 50 teens to Costa Rica and Thailand for two-week excursions that combine immersion in the local culture, community service, surfing lessons, hiking, and other outdoor adventures. The travelers teach art classes and engage in environmental protection projects. For the summer of 2009 Triskallian has added a sustainable green living tour to Panama.

The Triskallian, a Celtic symbol representing the adventure of going out in the world to learn and mature, also encompasses the idea of returning home to spread and share the experience. “That’s what’s so cool about it,” Friedman says.

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—John Pantalone ’71