Venice Students Spend Summer Overseas

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Natalie Bonilla interviewed by Kayla Leon

This past summer, Natalie Bonilla was very lucky she got the chance to travel to Hyderabad, India for three weeks.

̈ It’s such a great opportunity and everyone should do it,̈  she said. ¨I flew out five hours to New York and had to find my way around which was kind of scary but also fun. I really want to fly again by myself,̈ said Bonilla. Studying abroad can be a great opportunity to become more independent and a way to transition into adulthood. 

For those three weeks Bonilla took a week to teach health at a school which made her reflect on how different the U.S. learning environment is from that of the children in India.

 ̈ The school I taught at is underfunded,”she said. The government doesn’t fund all the schools,̈ she said. ¨We saw how students don’t have pencils to bring and teachers don’t have markers to teach. It made me value my education and teachers a lot more.¨

 Not only did she observe the kids, but she also interacted with the kids as well.  ̈This program was based around empowering girls through health education.¨ Overall they learned about how girls have problems menstruating since they aren’t exposed to having the products needed at hand,  said Bonilla. 

Out of the many memories of this trip, Bonilla’s last day of teaching was her favorite. The students had created a bond and decided to show their appreciation back to her. ̈ ̈The children wrote us thank you notes and said goodbye to us. It was hard but it was the best since they were so sweet,̈ she said. When asked if she recommends studying abroad, Bonilla agreed with an enthusiastic yes!

Ali Diaz by Vianey Jimenez

“I wish I could go back and do it all over again,” Ali Diaz said.

Diaz, a senior at Venice High, was part of a study abroad program by CIEE that gave her the opportunity to go to Ferrara, Italy for four weeks.

Diaz was excited to explore and learn about the new country. 

“I am looking forward to make new friends and learn about a new culture during her stay.” Diaz told the Oarsman before the trip.

Diaz had the opportunity to travel to Italy where she was able to use her Italian language skills that she had learned from her Italian class. Meeting people and trying to talk to strangers pushed her out of her comfort zone.

”I  gained so many friendships and a lot of confidence,” Diaz said. During her stay in Italy, Diaz stayed with a host family. 

“I really liked staying with a host family. It was a lot of fun to know local people and have them show us around town. It felt more personal,” Diaz said.

  “It was a sandwich with flatbread, deli meats, cheese, and spinach,” Diaz said when asked what was her favorite food from Italy. Diaz always liked Italian food and now that she visited Italy she loves it like never before.

Diaz’ overall experience was like no other.

“My experience was amazing, I am so glad that I had the opportunity to travel there. The memories and the experience from the trip are moments I will never forget.” Diaz said. She was able to learn and take a lot from her experience in another country. 

“If you have never traveled, you should try and do it even if it scares you,” Diaz said. She encouraged young people to travel and explore new places as much as they can because they meet new people, see new places, and taste new food!

Frances Abad by Julian Lopez-Albany

  During summer 2019, in partnership with the Council on International Educational Exchange, Frances Abad took a month long trip to the place of her choosing, Madrid, Spain. Once she arrived in Spain, she was greeted and transported to her host family along with the other students.

      Initially, she was very anxious about starting this experience. “I was really nervous about taking public transportation in another country and I was in an unfamiliar environment,” said Abad. She felt better when she learned the names of the metro stops in Madrid. 

      Throughout her time in Spain, she became more comfortable after she learned the names of the people whom she was with.  What CIEE does is help students learn and study while abroad. “While I was in Spain I was studying Spanish in terms of writing, reading, and speaking,” said Abad.

      She spent her days mastering the Spanish language, getting to know her way around Madrid, and, the highlight of her trip, going to the beach with her new friends. In the end, Abad really adored her trip and said she is very grateful for all CIEE did for her. She highly recommends any student to research CIEE and have the best summer ever as she did. “I highly recommend CIEE to other kids because it is a very eye-opening experience,” Abad said.

Ian Peterson by Carter Nowak

Ian Peterson, a CIEE student, and STEMM Magnet student of 3 years, traveled to Perth  Australia over the summer. He went to Australia because he wanted to help animals and learn more about the environment.

CIEE is a travel program offered at Venice High that has been around for a long time. Last year there was a large push for Venice students to go because of extra funding. Some of the many locations students can go visit are Australia, Spain, Italy, India, and France. 

Peterson found out about the CIEE program when Jesse Hill, the head of CIEE at the time, visited his Spanish 3 class and told his class about the program. He was in Perth for a total of three weeks. He said he chose Australia because  “ I wanted to help animals and learn more about the environment. I felt like I wasn’t really doing that much, and I thought by going I’d learn more, and I did learn a lot.” 

Peterson said the biggest culture shock in Australia was the subtle undertones of racism “I’m used to a lot of diversity, and in Australia there was just a lot of white people, a lot of them were kinda racist. It’s kinda sad, but it was still really cool, there were very few incidents” 

He said the best part of Australia was Rottnest Island, a small island off the western coast of Australia “ there were no cars on the island so we had to bike everywhere, I thought that was interesting. The only problem was, it was raining which kinda sucks.” He said his favorite piece of Australian slang was tomato sauce, which they say instead of ketchup.

 “I was in a burger joint and I asked for ketchup, me and the waiter were going back and forth for about ten minutes because he didn’t know what ketchup was. Finally someone returned the ketchup and I said that’s what I wanted. The waiter then told me ‘No, this is tomato sauce.’”  

CIEE is a good way to travel the world. Students interested in joining can look on the school website for info, or see Carolyn Willcox in room 222

Emma Hanna by Jessica Sample

The Council of International Educational Exchange (CIEE), is a program that is offered to students at Venice High School. CIEE gives students the opportunity to travel all over the world to explore other languages, cultures and research medical studies. 

Emma Hanna is an 11th grader this year and she was overjoyed last spring when she received the message that she got into the CIEE program to Perth, Australia, with a scholarship that covered 80% of the cost. 

Hanna began her three-week adventure by taking a 21-hour flight by herself to Perth. The wildlife and different kinds of nature that were displayed in Australia really spiked her interest to travel there. 

¨We took a trip to this island called Rottnest, and they had these little animals called Quokkas that ran around and you could take selfies with them and even though we were told not to touch them, we did anyway,¨  she said excitedly.

In Perth, Hanna stayed in dorms on a university campus. The dorms were described as little apartments where everyone had their own room and space. As opposed to traditional Australian foods, curry was one of the favorite dishes Hanna had during her stay. She mentioned that the CIEE program gave her the experience being independent. 

As she neared the end of her trip, Hanna had a newfound love for Australia and said she could picture herself living there in the future. The CIEE summer abroad program allowed Hanna to not only learn about the different aspects of Australia but to also focus on self growth and improvement. 

Hanna´s  next adventure is to travel to Costa Rica for her second summer abroad program, to continue her studies of conservation biology and explore the different animals that live in Latin America. 

Via Mariano by Shia Wade

  Via Mariano went on a one month trip in July 2019 to Tokyo in Japan and had a spectacular trip. The trip was meant for her to study the Japanese language and become familiar with the culture. She went with people she wasn’t totally familiar with but enjoyed the trip as if she knew them all along. 

 “It was pretty amazing, I went in without knowing anybody from school.  I went into the second session without my friend so I didn’t know anybody. I was the only one who didn’t know anybody, so I went in scared. It was wild. I made a lot of friends,” said Mariano.

 “I’m a senior and I’m thinking about the future,” said Mariano. “A big aspect is I want to go into business. I want to work with Japanese American business trade. I went to an elementary school in Japan and seeing them inspired me to be an elementary school teacher. That’s the career I’m pursing right now and that’s was something special I took from the class.”

  She studied the language  by taking Japanese classes in the morning where they studied the language for four hours. Her program was all about the Japanese language itself versus other programs in the CIEE where they focus on the culture.  “When you go in you are going to be scared but it’s just a crazy experience that not a lot of people get to have. So the fact that someone can do it, you grow up a little bit and learn how to be independent. “

Jeristella Go  by Rita Gamboa

Senior Jeristella Go had the opportunity to go to Alicante, Spain. She studied Spanish Foodie Culture.  She had never gone to Spain before and wanted the chance to experience it. She has also been taking Spanish for  four years with Mr. Cristobal Vicente.

 Last summer several Venice High students had  the opportunity of going across the world to study abroad through the Council on International Educational Exchange, also known as the CIEE program. CIEE Study Abroad has over 175 programs that take place in over 40 countries ranging from places like Australia, China, and Italy. CIEE partnered up with Venice High and had students apply for scholarships to a country of their choosing.

“I really wanted to improve my Spanish through the real world and going to Spain is the perfect way to do that,” said Go.

   Go lived in a dorm, instead of having the experience of living with a family like other exchange students do. “I don’t know if it was just that dorm, but we had housekeeping every day. I’ve been to other dorms in the U.S. and it didn’t feel like a dorm back there, it felt like a hotel, it had a big pool and everything, it was just comfy and nice, so I’m glad I got that privilege,” said Go.

   Go ended up really loving the trip. One memorable aspect of her trip was meeting new people and becoming friends with them. “ I met young Spanish kids my age and we talked a lot,” said Go. “I just formed a lot of bonds and connections and friendships. Even with the people that live here (in the U.S.) but they’re from different states like one that lived in Texas, one that lived in San Diego. It was just nice to get close to them in the three weeks that we spent in Spain.”

“We went hiking up the Castillo De Santa Barbara during the sunset and it was just so beautiful and I loved the vibe,” Go said. I’m so grateful  for CIEE for giving me this opportunity, I’d like to do it again.”

   If you’re interested in this program, feel free to talk to Mr. Vicente in room 204 or Ms. Carolyn Willcox in room 222 to help write an application for a scholarship for next summer.

Kiyah Dixon by Graham Wells

Kiyah Dixon is a senior this year and sheds light on her experience spending part of her summer in Japan through the CIEE program. 

Dixon’s love of Japanese culture has a long history, but it wasn’t until her summer of junior year that she was able to make her dream come true when she stayed in Tokyo, Japan for 4 weeks. 

“I chose to go there because I am really interested in the culture, and I like anime and Japanese food and I wanted to learn more about it.”  Even though it was her first time traveling alone, she quickly became friends with the other students in her dorm who were also from the U.S. One of Dixon’s favorite spots they visited was Akihabra, a shopping hub known for selling manga, anime, and video games. 

She recalled many of the foods she ate, and said “I think ramen was one of my favorite meals we ate because it was better than anything we have here.” Some of the highlights from their daily activities were learning how to make sushi, how to make traditional Japanese paper, and trying out a virtual reality experience. 

 After returning home, Dixon reflected on her summer, “I think my one takeaway would be the friends I made because I still talk to all of them actually, and I want to visit them in the winter. I feel like I made really good connections with all of them.” She was grateful for the opportunity and said she would both go back if she could and recommends students to apply for the CIEE program even if they think they’re not going to get accepted.