Summer is quickly approaching, and I’m so excited to be going to China this summer through NSLI-Y. I can’t believe that in less than 20 days I’ll be in a plane on my way there!
Way back last August my parents told me about NSLI-Y. From the website: “The National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y), sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, provides merit-based scholarships for eligible high school students to learn less commonly taught languages in summer and academic-year overseas immersion programs. NSLI-Y is part of a U.S. government initiative that prepares American citizens to be leaders in a global world. Now more than ever, it is important that Americans have the necessary linguistic skills and cultural knowledge to promote international dialogue and support American engagement abroad. NSLI-Y aims to provide opportunities to American youth that will spark a lifetime interest in language learning.” As you can see, it sounds awesome. The government wants to pay for me to go to another country and learn a new language? Sign me up!
I started the application last September, a three month process that included essays, teacher recommendations, a school transcript, and parent statements. I found out in December that I qualified as a semi-finalist, and had my interview in February. After that, I waited for what seemed like FOREVER to hear if I got in or not. Then finally, on April 4th, while at dinner with my family after my soccer game, I checked my email and found out that I got accepted for the summer Chinese program! I was so excited!!
My program implementer is ACES (American Cultural Exchange Service), and I’ll be going to Jiaxing (30 min. south of Shanghai) in the People’s Republic of China for six weeks! We’ll be staying with Chinese roommates in dorms at the school during the week and with host families on the weekends. I think it will be really interesting to be staying in the dorms during the week. I’m not really sure what to expect. I am a little sad that we’ll only be staying with host families on the weekends. I hope we’ll still be able to be close with our host families!
We have our pre-departure orientation in DC 2 days before we fly to Shanghai. I’m excited for that because I can’t wait to meet the rest of the people in my group. We have a group on Facebook, but only about 10 of us are in it, and I hear there are 20 in our actual group.
As to what we’ll be doing in China, I know we’ll be taking language and culture classes basically everyday and that at the end of the program we have a big project, but that’s about it. I don’t really know a lot of specific details, but nevertheless I’m super excited! I hope we’ll be getting more information soon about host families and itineraries and stuff like that.
I never in a million years would have guessed that I’d be going to China this summer. I am a little nervous going into this trip, since I don’t know any Chinese at all, but my excitement for what’s to come balances it out. It’s hard to be nervous when you know you’re going to have an amazing experience! Plus the not speaking Chinese problem should go away since I’ll be learning Chinese there. I can’t wait to find out more information and for this experience to get started!