Venice Students Heading Abroad This Summer

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Venice Students Heading Abroad This Summer

Elisa Martinez, Features Reporter

Several Venice High School students will be traveling the world this summer. This year is the first time the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) has partnered with Venice High School. Nine out of the 19 students who applied to study abroad were accepted, and seven of them received scholarship money to pay for their tuition.

Jasmine Vela: Spanish Language Intensive in Alicante, Spain

Frances Abad: Spanish Language and Culture in Madrid, Spain

Jeristella Go: Spanish Foodie Culture in Alicante, Spain

Natalie Bonilla: Empowering Girls through Health Education in Hyderabad, India

Via Mariano: Japanese Language and Pop Culture in Tokyo, Japan

Emma Hanna: Australian Wildlife Conservation in Perth, Australia

Ali Diaz: Italian Language and Culture in Ferrara, Italy

Ian Peterson: Australian Wildlife Conservation in Perth, Australia

Kiyah Dixon: Japanese Language and Pop Culture in Tokyo, Japan

Ali Diaz

11th grade

Location: Ferrara, Italy

Are you taking Italian right now?

“Yes, I’m taking Italian 3.”

Did you gravitate towards Italian or how did you choose to learn this language?

“I felt like it would be an interesting language to learn. Everyone is learning Spanish or French so I thought that would make me different.”

How did you find out about CIEE?

“Ms. Willcox told me about it last year when I was sophomore, but I couldn’t do it due to prior engagements, but this summer would be my last year to do it within high school so I thought I should do it.”

Did you get a scholarship?

“Yes I did.”

A full scholarship or less?

“I got an 80% scholarship.”

What were your parents’ reaction when you told them that you were going to be studying abroad?

“Well they thought that it was a really cool idea. The tuition was really expensive so they were really hoping that I’d get a scholarship and when I told them I got a scholarship they freaked out, they were so happy.”

Are you fundraising or how are you getting the rest of the money needed for the trip?

“I currently have a job so the money that I spend over there, I am saving up for that.”

For how long will you be in Ferrara?

“I will be in Ferrara for 4 weeks.”

What do you expect to get out of this trip?

“I want to make new friends. Learn about a different culture other than my own. I am really excited for the food, I love Italian food.”

Have you ever been out of the country?

“No I haven’t.”

Are you nervous? Since you will be flying alone.

“No I love to fly alone. I love the independence, it’s being free, I think it’s so nice.”

Last year I went to Ferrara and we were given bikes. Do you know how to ride a bike?

“No I don’t.”

Are you nervous?

“Yeah, I am nervous for that.”

Do you want to learn how to ride a bike?

“I need to learn. I do know how to swim. I am on the swim team so that is good, but that is nerve-wracking because I don’t know how to ride a bike.”

Do you plan on practicing before you leave?

“Yeah definitely. I need to practice because it is coming up pretty soon so I need to get on that.”

Who was the first person you told when you found out that you got the scholarship?

“I told my cousin because I was in Florida so I was with her. She started screaming; we were excited.”

How do your parents feel about you flying alone?

“They’re really nervous. I originally applied for India, but Italy was my second choice. They prefer that I go to Italy.”

How good is your Italian?

“I think it is pretty good. I mean I do pretty good on the tests.”

How do you feel about the idea of staying with a host family?

“I am excited. I think it would be really amazing to learn about the culture and to meet new people. I hope that they would know some English or proficient in English so if I don’t know what to say, they can at least understand me.”

Now this being your first time going out of the country, do you believe it will expand your horizons?

“Yes, I feel like this is my gateway into my traveling into the future.”

As you are getting closer to departure, are you becoming nervous or are you just excited overall?

“I’m kind of nervous about the bike part. That is the only thing I am really nervous about. I’m also kind of nervous if I miss my flight. I have a stop in Amsterdam which is only like an hour and a half so what if I miss my flight, but I hope I won’t because it is chaperoned.”

Natalie Bonilla

11th grade

Location: Hyderabad, India

Was India your first choice?

“Yes, India was my first choice.”

Why did you choose to go to India?

“I chose to go to India because the program I am doing is helping girls through health education and I have a club that helps homeless women by providing menstrual products for them. I saw this as a great opportunity to expand that. It looks like a really cool program.”

For how long will you be in India?

“3 weeks.”

Do you think having the Period Club had an impact on India being your choice?

“Yeah it definitely had an impact since I was never really concerned about this topic, menstrual hygiene or health education in general and it kind of opened my perspective into the world about how there are so many problems and how I can help with that. This program was just really interesting to me and it is an amazing opportunity.”

How did the Period Club come about?

“It’s a subgroup from a larger organization called ‘Period’ and I found out about this through another club called Margaret’s Place. From there I got really interested and I found out how to make my own club at school and from there I have been with them for 1 year and a half now. It has been a really great experience so far.”

What’s the next step for your club?

“Right now we are trying to get dispensers in all the girl bathrooms for 25 cents. That’s the main thing we are working on. We changed our meetings to Wednesdays so no more Fridays.”

Did you get a scholarship?

“Yeah I did.”

How much was it?

“It was a full scholarship.”

How did you tell your parents and what were their reactions?

“At first my mom didn’t want me to do it. I told her about it and she said, ‘No, you are not going’ so I filled out the application and everything to convince her to let me do it and it took a couple of days till she finally came around. She was like, ‘Okay if you want to do it, do it. You are almost an adult now, so it’s okay.’ My dad was like, ‘You know what? Go! That’s one less kid to feed,’ but it was kind of scary.”

How have you been preparing for your departure?

“Well I paid for my flight which is the most important thing. I have been reading a lot of things and watching a lot of videos and asking questions to those who are going on the trip with me and just trying to communicate with them and be friends.”

Will this be your first time going out of the country?

“Yes this will be my first time. I haven’t even gone outside of the state.”

So you must be pretty nervous?

“Yeah. I have also never flown before so that should be fun. I am going to be in the air for 14 hours. Well for one plane it is 14 hours and the second one it’s 5 hours and there’s another one for 2 hours.”

Where will your connecting flights be?

“My first flight will be in JFK. From there I am going all the way to New Delhi and from there to Hyderabad which is where I will be staying for three weeks.”

Do you know what the housing situation will be?

“I am going to be staying in a college dorm for 2 weeks and on the last week I will be staying in the village with the young girls. I will be helping them read and teaching them things and other things the program will have me do.”

Since you’re a junior, do you have an idea of what you want to do in college? Any majors in mind?

“I want to major in pre-law and also math.”

What do you expect to come back with?

“I feel like there are many things that I can come back with. For instance, like appreciating the things I have, since India is one of the undeveloped countries. It’s just something that will change me as a person.”

Via Mariano

11th grade

Location: Tokyo, Japan

What drew you to take Japanese?

“It’s kind of lame, but when I was younger all of my friends were Japanese and they would all try to speak Japanese to me, but I couldn’t say anything back so you know awkwardly nod your head and I would get so mad about not speaking Japanese. I went to a Japanese school for three years so I could talk to my friends’ parents and to them. Then I made friends there and I decided to take it in high school because I wanted to become fluent.”

Will you be staying with a host family?

“Well yes and no. During the week we will stay in a dormitory at Sophia University in Tokyo and then on the weekend we stay with a host family.”

Will this be your first time flying outside of the country?

“No and it’s not the first time I’ve been to Japan. My family likes to travel so I’ve been to like Mexico, Canada, and Japan. I am very excited, but a little scared.”

Did you get a scholarship?

“I did get a scholarship, but it was just enough to get me to go on the trip.”

How are you getting the rest of the money for your trip?

“In my neighborhood we have a lot of cats so on the weekends I am cat sitting, which is not a good idea if you are allergic to cats, but if you need the money it’s pretty good.”

How did you tell your parents and what were their reactions?

“I didn’t tell my parents I signed up. I kind of did it on my own I was like ‘Okay I’m not going to get in, I’m not that smart.’ If I were to get the scholarship then I’d have to tell them and then I got the scholarship and I was like ‘Okay now I gotta tell them.’ I was like ‘Hey Mom, can I go to Japan this summer?’ and she was like ‘No.’ I was like ‘About that.’ It took a week about saying ‘it’s going to be fine, it’s going to be safe.’ They were like ‘Okay’ and we made a bunch of code words to make sure it would be safe.”

What are you most excited about?

“I’m really excited to become fluent. I’m really hoping to take the SAT Japanese test when I come back after the summer. So I’m hoping this will be a good chance to become fluent and learn more Japanese. I’m trying to make new friends and eat good food.”

You mentioned that you have been to Japan before. What part of Japan have you been to?

“The same part, Tokyo, but I only did sightseeing places and was really touristy and was like ‘oh Tokyo Tower!’ but on the trip I’m hoping I’ll get to see a deeper part of Japan and its culture.”

What do you expect to get out of this trip?

“Hopefully become fluent. Be a different person; it is a life changing experience being in a foreign country for a very long time.”

How have you been planning for your departure?

“Well I bought my plane ticket. Flightfox is not the best coordinator for that and we had to do that so we could get chaperoned flights. CIEE gives us these modules to do which helps us prepare to go to our countries which are very long and taxing, but that’s okay. It helps you understand that it is going to be different and it’s not going to be like American culture and how our culture is different from theirs.”

As a junior do you have an idea what you want to do in college?

“It’s really cringey, but I want to major in Japanese language and minor in international business.”

Kiyah Dixon

11th grade

Location: Tokyo, Japan

How did you find out about CIEE?

“I found out through the representative that came to talk to us in our Spanish class.”

For how long will you be going away?

“For a month.”

Why did you choose to go to Japan?

“I have been wanting to go to Japan for most of my life and it would be a new experience.”

Are you taking Japanese right now?

“No, I am taking Spanish.”

Are you staying with a host family?

“Yeah.”

What are your thoughts about that?

“I am a little nervous, but I think it could be really fun if I make the most out of it.”

How did you tell your parents and what were their reactions?

“It was hard to convince my mom, but my dad was okay with it, but over time she accepted it.”

How are you planning to get the money needed for the trip?

“I have been applying for jobs and then I have been recycling. I have also been selling clothes online.”

Will this be your first time going outside of the country?

“Yes it is.”

How do you feel about that?

“A little nervous, but not that much because I have been out of the state a lot of the times.”

Are you nervous to meet the other individuals taking part in this program?

“Not really. I feel like it will actually make it easier, so that I can at least have other people to help me.”

What do you expect to get out of this trip?

“A new experience like different from being in the U.S. and experiencing a new culture and a different country.”

When you found out that you got in, what was your reaction?

“I was really happy and I don’t know, I guess I was just really surprised because they had to go through like 1.000 or so applications and they chose mine.”

Jasmine Vela

11th grade

Location: Alicante, Spain

For how long will you be in Spain?

“I’ll be there for 4 weeks.”

What are you most excited about?

“I’m most excited about meeting the kids from the other parts of the United States on the trip. I’ve been talking to them and they seem really cool.”

Is this your first time flying outside of the country?

“No I have visited family in El Distrito Federal, Mexico, but I have only gone out of the country twice so this would be a really new experience.”

Are you doing the chaperoned flight or the independent flight?

“I am doing the independent flight.”

Are you nervous about that?

“Yeah I am just nervous about going through the airport and everything.”

What do you hope to get out of this trip?

“I hope to better my Spanish speaking skills because even when I speak in English, I mumble so I am hoping this helps me be a better presenter. I am also excited about getting a new perspective from the people living in Spain and from all the people all over the world.”

What are you most looking forward to?

“I am most looking forward to the swimming activities since it’s right on the coast. I looked up an itinerary from last year and I saw that they do a lot of stuff in the water.”

Did you get a scholarship?

“Yeah I got like $5,000 so I am only paying for the flight and I paid $400.”

How are you paying for the flight?

“I started a GoFundMe so that people I know or people at the school can donate. It’s to reimburse my parents because they are the ones that paid for it in the first place and they are hard workers. So far I’ve raised $1,000 so that pays for half of the flight. Also to raise money, I sell customizable charms.”

How have you been preparing for your trip?

“I’ve just been doing all the tasks they’ve put up on the website for CIEE. I had to go to the doctor and also figure my passport stuff.”

What are some of your concerns about this trip?

“I feel pretty confident about everything. It’s just the airport business. I’m scared of getting my luggage lost.”

When you found out that you got the scholarship, how did you tell your parents and what were their reactions?

“When I got the scholarship, I got really happy because the night before I was really worried, I cried because I was really scared, I was really anxious. I got the news when I was in Mexico over winter break so I just sent it through WhatsApp to my mom because I was worried about the initial $400 and then she was really supportive about it because she knew how hard I worked through the whole process.”

Do you think this trip will open up new opportunities for you?

“Yeah for sure. I think it will help me determine if I want to pursue language in college or anything else like job-wise. I’m considering minoring in Spanish in college so I am hoping that this solidifies whether or not I want to do that.”

Jeristella Go

11th grade

Location: Alicante, Spain

What program will you be taking part in?

“The Spanish Foodie culture program.”

Why did you choose to do that program?

I love cooking and I want to learn more about the culture of their food and increase my skills in cooking.”

How often do you cook?

“During the school year not as much as I do it during break especially during the summer that’s when I cook most of the time. I just try to cook for my family and use different ingredients and recipes.”

Did you get a scholarship?

“Yes I did.”

How much did it cover?

“It was the entire thing.”

How did you tell your parents and what were their reactions?

“I told my grandma first and she was very proud. Then I told my mom when she got home from work and she was happy for me too.”

Are you nervous at all?

“Not really. I feel like I’m more excited because I just love traveling.”

For how long will you be there?

“3 weeks.”

Is this you first time going outside of the U.S.?

“No because I was actually born in the Philippines, but first time going to Europe for sure. That’s why I am so excited.”

What do you expect to get out of this trip?

“I’m expecting to learn more about how food is prepared and cooked in Spain. Get lots of pictures and videos because I also love filming and photography and making new friends and memories.”

So you’re a junior, do you have an idea of what you want to do in college?

“Yeah like I have an idea, somewhere in science, I don’t know specifically.”

Do you travel a lot?

“Not outside the country. That’s why I am very excited.”

Frances Abad

11th grade

Location: Madrid, Spain

How long will you be there for?

“A month.”

Is this your first time going outside of the country?

“No. I was born in the Philippines and I’ve been to Hong Kong when I was 7.”

How did you tell your parents and what were their reactions?

“I told them about the program and how I got a scholarship and they were very excited for me. They’re willing to support me every step of the way.”

Was it a full scholarship?

“It covered about 95%.”

What are you excited about?

“I’m excited about Spanish culture. I’m excited to enhance my skills in Spanish in terms of writing, speaking, reading.”

What do you hope to get out of this trip?

“I’m just hoping my Spanish skills could be better. This trip will provide me a sense of independence and I saw this as an opportunity to get out of my comfort zone.”

Will you be staying with a host family?

“Yes.”

How do you feel about that?

“I’m a little nervous because it’s a different environment for me and I’m going to be staying there for a month.”

Emma Hanna

10th grade

Location: Perth, Australia

Why did you choose Australia?

“I’ve always wanted to go there and the program there looks really cool.”

Did you get a scholarship?

“Yes. It covered 80%.”

How are you getting the rest of the money?

“My family has been really supportive and they all came together to help me.”

What are you most excited about?

“I’m really excited to see the beaches and the animals there. It’s going to be really cool.”

When you got the scholarship, how did you tell your parents and what were their reactions?

“Well I was in a cab with one of my friends, so when I got home I showed my mom the email and she was really excited.”

What are you nervous about?

“It’s a really long trip and I haven’t been that far away from home for that long so I think that is going to be different.”

How long will you be there for?

“3 weeks.”

What drew your attention to this program?

“I really like conservation and I do volunteering in that area anyway.”

Where are you staying?

“We’re going to stay in dorms.”

Where else have you traveled to?

“Well I went to Maine by myself last summer and I’ve been to a bunch of other places in the state. I’ve also been to Mexico and Canada with my parents.”

 

Ian Peterson

11th grade

Location: Perth, Australia

Why did you choose to go to Australia?

“So I care about animals and I really wanted to make a difference out somewhere else rather than here in LA.”

How did you find out about CIEE?

“I was in my Spanish class one day and the people who run the program showed up and talked about it.”

For how long will you be in Australia?

“For about a month, almost a whole month.”

What are you most excited about?

“Taking care of the animals. I want to see a kangaroo and a koala too. Just mostly explore somewhere I’ve never been to before.”

Did you get a scholarship?

“No I did not.”

How are you getting the money to pay for all the necessities?

“I am kind of doing this deal with my parents, so I’m going to be working a little in the summer and they pay for it, but I will pay them back.”

When you found out that you got into the program, what was your reaction?

“I was just thinking about all the paperwork I would have to fill out pretty much.”

Is this your first time going outside the country?

“No it is not.”

Where else have you been?

“I’ve been to the Philippines and to Japan for an hour.”

What were your parents’ reaction when you told them that you got into the program?

“Well my mom couldn’t contain herself and she kept bugging me about all the paperwork.”

When you told your friends, what did they say?

“They were kind of sad because I’ll be gone for a whole month. Pretty much I have to plan everything in June because in July I’m leaving.”

What do you expect to get out of this trip?

“I expect to learn more about animals. I get to learn more about Australia, I get to meet new people and see how everyone is out there.”

Was Australia your first choice?

“Yes and no because I had Africa first, but then I also chose Australia.”

How have you been preparing for your trip?

“I’ve been thinking about what to bring like, ‘Do I bring my camera? How much clothes do I bring? Is it hot or cold?’ you know just basic travel stuff.”

You’re a junior, so next year you’ll be senior. Do you have an idea of what you want to do after high school?

“Yes and no. I want to continue running, but then I also have my photography, so we’ll see.”

How does it feel to be one of the few to have been selected?

“It’s actually pretty crazy because I told a lot of my guy friends to sign up, but then when the whole CIEE group met up at our school, it was just me. I am the only guy.”

So you say that you like animals. Do you do anything outside of school related to volunteering at shelters?

“When I was younger I did a lot more shelter stuff and right now I haven’t because I’m busy with school.”

What are you nervous about?

“Mostly being gone from my family and everything I know here. I’m going to be with another family pretty much and I might have some other brothers and sisters, but then again I don’t know anyone there so it’s just a new environment.”

What are you feeling as your departure gets closer?

“I’m more excited, but when the day comes, I’ll be nervous.”

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