By Annalise Bossert ’21
While traveling to another country for a few weeks can be exciting and beneficial, it is nothing compared to the experience of living amongst the locals and being immersed in the culture. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by studying abroad. However, with all the costs associated with travel, room, and board, studying abroad can seem expensive.
The Speedwell Scholarship, started by Jenny Messner, a local woman from Lititz, provides students with the opportunity to live in another country for a year, stay with a host family and attend school. Unlike many other scholarships with hidden costs and fees, this scholarship is completely free. The only expenses are the fees necessary to acquire a passport and any spending money desired.
This amazing opportunity is open to all language students; the only stipulation being that the students must go to a non-English-speaking country and stay there for a full school year. Because she has experienced the benefits firsthand, Messner believes in the importance of cultural education and learning a new language. Thus, these criteria have been set in place to advance students’ knowledge and awareness of the world around them.
To apply, students must log on to afs.org and create an account. From there, they are required to fill out a few forms, write four one-page essays, post a few pictures of themselves and their hobbies, and write a letter to their prospective host family. They must also contact AFS and inform them of their interest in the scholarship. Once these preliminary items are completed, the next step is waiting for further instructions.
As for the actual program, it runs from September 4th to July 10th, including days spent traveling to and from the country. These dates correspond to the 2018-2019 school year. During this year, students will be placed with a local family and will attend school in the country, and, yes, grades from that school still count!
The Speedwell Scholarship is only one of many study-abroad opportunities that can be found on the AFS website. Many of the scholarships do not even require proficiency in the language of the country the student is interested in, as simply living amongst native speakers will soon remedy that issue. In addition, though this particular scholarship is only for high-schoolers, opportunities for graduate students are also available on AFS.org.
Interviews, written essays, and extensive preparation are necessary to apply for the Speedwell Scholarship, and even then, there is no guarantee of getting picked. However, though the tasks seem daunting, the opportunity makes the labor well worth the result – the chance of a lifetime to study abroad.