For the past few years of my life I have found myself incredibly interested and intrigued by the thought of studying abroad. Having grown up in the small town of Chico with goals exceeding what this small town can offer me, I am always looking for the next opportunity to push me towards success.
Looking at the world through journalistic eyes and being the outgoing, confident, able-to-hold-a-conversation-with-anybody person that I am, I am constantly discussing opinions and events with various people. Learning about people’s ideas and broadening my knowledge on the world has only further sparked my interest in looking at the world from a new perspective.
These interests lead me to investigate various student exchange programs before stumbling upon the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX). This is a youth exchange program between Germany and the USA, hoping to instill a deeper understanding of each other’s cultures and erasing prejudices. They figured that the best place to start was with the youth of today’s world. This exact program is for a year long study abroad in Germany, 10 full months away from everybody you know while being fully immersed in the German culture and language.
I began the application process towards the end of November, submitting my written application towards the end of January. I was quickly notified of my acceptance as a semi-finalist. Today, I completed the next step in the process – an interview in front of a panel of people involved in the program as well as a German exchange student who is here for the school year.
We begin the day with a small orientation and quickly moved into a group activity. As I began to talk to some of the other applicants I realized that I was up against some strong competition. I really enjoyed meeting these people with such similar personalities to me and if I happen to be chosen I hope to meet more people like them.
After the group activities we were notified of the individual interview schedule. Mine wasn’t to be until 2:30 pm and it was only 10:00 am at this point in time. My mom and sister and I had some time to kill, so we spent a good few hours eating breakfast, shopping, and preparing myself for my interview even further. The night before my amazing, knowledgeable, 25-year-old-man-stuck-in-a-17-year-old-boy’s-body friend helped me to come up with solid interview answers. He helped me find a common thread in what I want to do with my life and to find answers that were honest and what the interviewers would want to hear. Doing this I came up with some of the following answers, which will give you a better idea of why I want to participate in this program.
Tell us about yourself.
When I think of myself I think of my determination, passion and the fact that I am both serious and driven towards success as well as witty, humorous, and outgoing. I think of the backbone of my formative years – my large family and incredibly outgoing parents. With their support I have learned that to achieve something, I have to give it my all. I will have to fight for it and I am willing to do that. Next to their support, the greatest thing my parents have given me is knowledge, poise, and the ability to carry an enjoyable person with just about anybody. With both inspiring family members and strong friends, I have learned the value of relationships. I have a strong sense of self, an excitement for the future and the actualization of my idea of who I want to be. However, I think that my relationships are synonymous with my identity, attributes of the people that inspire me and the person I aspire to be are braided together, at some point they converge in my mind. Through having such strong relationships throughout my life has caused me to wish to bring people and ideas across the world together. I think that just about every person can have a valid opinion on something they are passionate about. Hearing the multitude of opinions from people in my life has sparked an interest in me to learn more from other people. Perspective has a lot to do with these things, and traveling across the globe is perspective if I’ve ever seen it.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years I see myself as a dedicated, involved student attending NYU and majoring in International Business. After I graduate, I don’t know where I will end up living or what company I will work for but I hope to be making a difference. I think about the innovative companies that will be around in a few years. Using business skills coupled with journalism will give me abilities to spread ideas that can change lives.
What is an extracurricular you are involved in? Why? How does it help you?
I was the child that either couldn’t or chose to never stop reading. Mixed in with the books and street signs were the swirling covers of the daily newspaper on my doorstep each morning. While the books and street signs were words I seemed to be encouraged to read, the newspaper was different. As a young child, I might pick it up only to have my parents coerce me to not read the headline or article. I assume they only wanted to protect me from the news of real world incidents, especially as a young child. I distinctly remember a day when I came upon a newspaper that had been left out, and with no parent over my shoulder I began reading. Within seconds, the harsh reality of the lead story coupled with a few necessary inferences, lead me to the conclusion that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. My seven year old self immediately realized that my parents had been right, I didn’t want to know this! This was the one event in which I benefited from not living in a more eventful city.
From then, despite the crushing news, newspapers only became more intriguing to me. With the truth of Santa exposed, I figured there wasn’t much else my parents could be hiding from me about the real world. If only that were true.
Entering high school, I discovered the possibility of not only being a reader of news, but a writer of it. I joined the school newspaper partway through my freshman year and began writing articles about things ranging from global events to the latest happenings on campus. As I wrote, I felt closer to the events around me and I realized that knowledge empowers. With new found information on events affecting communities on global, national, and local levels I began to form opinions on more than the small bubble of things affecting my personal life.
Interviews provided insight to the events and people related and give me a deeper understanding and interviews with students gave me a plethora of opinions to explore. As I interviewed people around campus I was given the ability to educate them on relevant topics as well as validate their opinions and my own. Carrying out conversations, I found myself having the ability to discuss items of importance with my peers and I liked it.
The credible, intriguing thoughts and opinions of the people around me further reiterated my aspirations to bring the ideas of people throughout the world together and to gain perspective on the events that take place each day.
One of the programs I volunteer for is Girls on the Run, a running program for third through fifth grade girls that focuses on self esteem and other problems girls have to deal with in today’s world. They go through lessons focusing on confidence, acceptance, bullying problems, how to be a good friend, and giving back to the community. As a practice partner I show up to their practices as often as possible to assist the coach and run with the girls. I love running so I love being able to pass on that affinity for the sport to younger girls through an incredible program. As I run with each girl they are able to unwind, converse with me, and work through problems or situations that may be taking place in their life. These conversations, along with the confidence building and acceptance that the program instills in these girls really shows as they grow and change over the 12 week program. In addition to the advice and help I am able to bequeath to them, I am again able to reach out them and see this innocent, young, eager outlook on the world. At such an early age these girls are accepting, unique, understanding and empathetic. These groups of elementary schoolers happen to have a better grasp on how you stay at peace with someone than most grown people in today’s world. Each girl is unique, and they embrace that. As they enter their junior high years, it’s inspiring to me to know that the participants through this program will continue to have an affinity for their individuality and acceptance for everybody.
However, as luck would have it, the interview questions were completely different than what I had expected. They were based on different situations I might find myself in and how to deal with them, as well as testing my flexibility and motives for why I want to go, and asking why they should accept me over others. While these weren’t exactly what I had prepared for, I found that through the process of, essentially, discovering myself, I was able to confidently answer each question. I stumbled a bit, but then again I know that I am my own worst critic and a resounding truth seems to tell me that I did well. For one, I happened to see one interviewer giving me full marks in every category on her score sheet!
However, almost every teen that I am up against right now seems to be a solid contender so I can’t be sure of the outcome. I will find out for sure by March 15 and keep you posted!