12/21/2009 - Alaska students take advantage of foreign exchange programs
Rebecca George for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
FAIRBANKS - Italy, Argentina, Denmark, New Zealand, Thailand, France, Panama and the Netherlands hosted eight local students for a year, sending the eager young adventurers home with a new perspective on the world and on their own community. Students were given the chance to travel with help from the American Field Service, a program that has sent Fairbanks students overseas since the 1960s.
They have each returned with a new perspective on themselves, the world, their hometown and the art of communication. They made friends, tasted strange new foods, and immersed themselves in a culture they might never have
Anna Maniaci, a senior at West Valley High School, spent her entire junior year living in Holland. The experience was both frightening and enlightening for Maniaci, who said she was homesick and struggled with the Dutch language, having never heard a word before arriving in Amsterdam.
“I doubted myself constantly,” she said. “I was shy and afraid to do things on my own, but during the year, I broke through that and became much more independent once I learned how to ask other people for help.”
She said that once she was able to open her mind, she started to learn.
“I learned not to be afraid of something different,” she said. “And to not be quick to assume things about places, because it probably has so much more going on than you think.”
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