Three Roanoke Rapids High School students have received the Global Navigator Scholarship for summer study abroad programs in France, Italy, and the Dominican Republic. The scholarship, sponsored by CIEE, a nonprofit study abroad and intercultural exchange organization based in Maine, totaled to over $8,000 for all three students.
Kayla Casper, a junior at RRHS, received her scholarship to study for 4 weeks in France. “I hope to learn a lot and become fluent,” shared Casper. Casper is finishing her 2nd semester of French at RRHS. The students in the language and culture programs are immersed in the language throughout the duration of the 4-week program. They live and breathe the language and culture 24/7. While living with a host family, the participants attend class for 3 hours each morning and then spend the afternoon applying what they learn in the classroom while participating in a variety of cultural excursions and experiences. “This is a fantastic opportunity for students who are serious about language and cultural learning,” said Jeff Pageau, RRHS French teacher. He is very familiar with the program because he has been a seasonal employee for CIEE for the past 3 summers. “The progress that students are able to make in just 4 weeks is incredible. They become so much more confident in their ability to communicate in the language,” said Pageau. “Kayla will actually be participating in the session that I will be working, so I’m really looking forward to sharing this experience with her.”
Abbey Mederos, a junior at RRHS, received her scholarship to study in Italy, also for 4 weeks. “I’ve always had a passion to travel and explore other cultures. I hope to learn more about the world and myself as a person,” said Mederos. She shares a trait with so many students who participate in language and culture study abroad programs: the love of learning about other cultures. “I love learning languages, so choosing the language and cultural program was perfect for me, I also studied Italian culture and history for years and when the opportunity to travel to there, I jumped on it.”
Shykira Hopson, a sophomore at RRHS, chose to explore a 3-week service and leadership program in the Dominican Republic. She will be working with at-risk youth to provide vocational and English-language training. “I would rather do a service program than a language program because I enjoy helping people,” says Hopson. “The purpose of the program is the help others and explore other cultures. So when I heard about this amazing opportunity, I had to do it.”
“We often speak of cultural competency when studying language. In our language classes, we focus on teaching language andculture together, not as separate topics. Today more than ever, we need to encourage our young people to embrace cultural differences and bridge that gap to cultural understanding. To see these students accept the challenges that await them is a testimony to our language programs at RRHS,” says Pageau.