High school travelers

January 15, 2015

The OHS stresses the importance of post- secondary education, particularly college. Some students, though, dream of doing something and going someplace else. The following four students have figured that someplace out. The Rotary Youth Exchange program is an international program involving over 30 countries. The program is extremely selective, only allowing the best of the best to represent the United States in other countries.

Senior Margaret Sager
Senior Margaret Sager

This year, four Owatonna High School students have been selected to participate in the program and travel to countries around the world during the 2015-2016 academic school year- junior Breezaine BigEagle (Mexico), senior Micah BigEagle (India), senior Margaret Sager (Brazil), and senior Jackie Warehime (Argentina). Sager said, “I know it will be a completely amazing experience and I know I will be stretched in ways I cannot imagine right now.”

To be accepted into this program, there are quite a few steps. Those interested must first fill out an application, including dental and medical records and a letter of recommendation. There is also a “Low-key” interview intended for general “get-to-know-you” things. All of this takes place in the beginning of the academic school year. In December, the program takes things up a notch with the candidates. The potential travelers participate in a two to three hour long interview where they are extensively questioned by community members who were themselves involved in the Rotary Youth Exchange program.

Junior Breezaine BigEagle
Junior Breezaine BigEagle

Breezaine BigEagle said, “It was awesome to talk to former exchange students. They were super helpful and I felt really reassured afterward.” The purpose of this interview is to assess the candidate’s personality, home life, academic standing, and their interaction skills.

The candidates also have a sit-down with recent former exchange students and have the chance to ask questions about life as an exchange student. These former students are “spies.” They report how the candidate interacts and about more personal details of the candidate’s life, including how they feel about traveling, being away from their families and their relationship status.

Senior Micah BigEagle
Senior Micah BigEagle

Micah BigEagle said, “I am not looking forward to not being able to communicate. I’ll be in a different place with a different language, and I won’t be able to talk or understand anyone. When travelling, though, I hope I get a lot of layovers, hopefully in Japan. So many languages all around you would be so cool!” In a few weeks, the candidate will receive a letter of acceptance or rejection. If accepted, the letter also contains the tentative name of the country the candidate will be assigned to.

The accepted candidates receive training to prepare them for a different life in another country around the world. Warehime said, “It’s kinda nerve wracking to live in another country for a year. I have no idea what it will be like in Argentina. I’m excited to experience new things, see the world and challenge myself.”

Travelling is a great way to open one’s eyes to the surrounding world and experience new things and challenges. Life is about growing and stretching and travelling to a foreign country with an unfamiliar culture is a great way to accomplish this.

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