By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
Kenwood Academy High School students Shana Littleton and Sydnie Chassagne were awarded BP Scholarships and will spend the 2013-2014 school year as intercultural exchange students studying in Brazil through the AFS-USA Intercultural Program.
Chassagne, a junior at Kenwood, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave., said she found the BP
Scholarship in a Google search and spoke to her college counselor about the opportunity. After filling out applications and writing essays, getting parent and counselor consent forms, a round of interviews at school and at home and obtaining passports and visas, Littleton, a sophomore at Kenwood, and Chassagne are still energized and excited about going to Brazil.
Littleton said she is looking forward to making lifelong connections.
“I’m looking forward to learning a new language and broadening my views of other cultures,” Littleton said. “It will be cool to stay with another family and have a home away from home. Maybe when I come back one day in the future I can reconnect with them.”
Chassagne, who plans to study languages in college, said she’s looking forward to the academic side of the experience.
“It will be cool to see Brazil’s education system, learn a new language, learn about new food and new culture,” Chassagne said. “I’m also going to gain independence – doing things on my own will be a new challenge.”
Chassagne will also have the added responsibility to apply for college during her study-abroad year.
“I spoke to my college counselor and created an online profile that has my transcripts on file,” Chassagne said. “My essays and recommendation letters can be posted there throughout the year.”
AFS-USA (formerly the American Field Service), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, has offered international exchange programs in more than 40 countries around the world for the past 65 years. Littleton and Chassagne are currently meeting with AFS-USA representatives and the other 10 scholarship recipients from Chicago and Houston through a series of information calls. The entire group will meet in Miami for a one-day, in-person orientation before going to Brazil. As of press time, the students have not been assigned to host families.
While in Brazil, the exchange students will attend school and learn about the culture through their host families. They will be given a stipend every month to pay for minor expenses such as school uniforms and books and be required to submit quarterly reports to the program about their experiences. They will also go on AFS-organized gatherings and trips to places such as the Amazon River and Corcovado Mountain where the Christ the Redeemer statue is mounted.