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Senior applies for year-long exchange program

Caroline Garland plans to head abroad for gap year

Senior+Caroline+Garland+reads+from+her+book+preparing+her+for+Bosnia+and+Herzegovina.+
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Senior applies for year-long exchange program

Senior Caroline Garland reads from her book preparing her for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Senior Caroline Garland reads from her book preparing her for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Yonah Davis

Senior Caroline Garland reads from her book preparing her for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Yonah Davis

Yonah Davis

Senior Caroline Garland reads from her book preparing her for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Yonit Krebs

After hearing about her father’s experience on an exchange program and hosting an Italian exchange student, senior Caroline Garland said she decided apply for a foreign exchange program as a gap year between high school and college.

“My dad did this American Field Service (AFS) foreign exchange program when he was in high school and last year we decided to host a foreign exchange student, Elena, and I thought it would be a cool idea if I could do a foreign exchange year,” Garland said.

“The very first AFS volunteers were actually high school students who went to Europe and drove ambulances. They came home from that experience and felt that there needed to be more people-to-people diplomacy to increase understanding around the world.””

— Emily Turner Baebenroth

According to Garland, the application process was personality-based because AFS looks for students who want to experience a new culture.

“(AFS) wants to make sure that you can learn the language and live in a different environment and be open to new community experiences because they don’t want to send someone across the world who is just going to go be completely immersed in their beliefs and not open their mind to other things,” Garland said.

Emily Turner Baebenroth, the team development specialist at the West Metro branch of AFS-USA, said the AFS mission is to promote peace and justice through intercultural exchanges.

“We started officially after World War II,” Turner Baebenroth said. “The very first AFS volunteers were actually high school students who went to Europe and drove ambulances. They came home from that experience and felt that there needed to be more people-to-people diplomacy to increase understanding around the world.”

Garland said her family’s experience as a host family for an Italian exchange student this year helped her understand the process more.

“Once (AFS has) checked that you’re good for the situation, you basically just write a letter about yourself to your potential host family,” Garland said. “We only know this stuff because we had Elena, and we were on the other end of this ourselves. The organization AFS sends your information abroad, and the people pick out whether they would like to host you or not.”

Turner Baebenroth said she finds the relationships developed between the international student and their host family to be one of the most rewarding parts of the experience.

“Every single year we have students who come back from years past to visit their home family, or we have host families that go overseas to visit them,” Turner Baebenroth said. “Just last year, we had a host family fly to Spain because their Spanish daughter was getting married and her father had died when she was younger, so her host dad came to give her away at her wedding.”

According to Turner Baebenroth, the program looks for students who are motivated to be exposed to new environments.

“It takes an independent type of student to succeed on the program,” Turner Baebenroth said. “We want to know that students are going to be involved and put themselves out there and try new things.”

Garland said a significant factor in her decision as to where she wanted to be an exchange student was her desire to be in a country that she doesn’t know anything about.

“I didn’t want to go somewhere where I would know very many things about it and being able to speak Spanish, I didn’t want to go somewhere where I already knew the language, so that already eliminated Latin America and Spain,” Garland said.

Garland said her interest in linguistics drew her to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“I want to go to Bosnia and Herzegovina because in Bosnia they speak Bosnian, which is kind of Serbo-Croatian, and it’s not one of the huge languages that everyone talks about,” Garland said. “I’m hopefully planning to go later in college into something linguistics related maybe or learning different languages and things like that. Learning a completely different language from my own would be very interesting.”

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About the Writer
Yonit Krebs, Managing Editor

Yo it’s pretty neat that I’m a managing editor this year! One of my favorite activities is to eat Wacky Mac on a porch on Friday afternoons. My favorite...

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