Two Priory seniors had “global” enrichment opportunities over the summer, one abroad and one right here in the United States.
Matt Travers spent six weeks in China as part of the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) program through the U.S. Department of State. After initially applying for the program in October, Matt went through a screening and interview process, then was selected to participate in April. There were approximately 25 students who traveled to China with the NSLI-Y program, from all over the United States. Matt was the only student in the program from Missouri.
Before leaving for China, there was an orientation at the University of Delaware. “After the orientation, I felt very prepared. Nothing really caught me off-guard when we arrived,” Matt said.
The first two and a half weeks were spent at Xiamen University taking full immersion Chinese language classes. During the second two weeks, the classes continued at the University, but Matt lived with a host family in Xiamen — a mother and father and their middle school-age son.
On days with classes, Matt said they were on the university campus from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with not much free time. The classes met six days per week, and since his host parents both worked, they didn’t get to spend as much time together as he'd have liked. They did take him to local restaurants and introduce him to their extended family, however.
The last week was spent in Beijing and Shanghai, with no formal classwork but more tourist activities. They saw the Forbidden City and Great Wall, sites that Matt described as “surreal,” and “incredible.”
During the orientation and after the end of the coursework, the students were given proficiency exams to gauge their progress. “There was a huge improvement after the trip,” Matt said of his Chinese skills. “Listening was much easier, and it was more natural to follow along in conversation.”
John Russell’s international experience took place at Yale University, in the Yale Young Global Scholars program. The two-week experience brought approximately 300 students to New Haven from all over the world, including places like South Sudan.
The program had three components. The first was a series of seminars by professionals in international affairs, diplomacy and security. Some of John’s favorites wer Harold Koh, an Obama administration lawyer, and Meredith Potter, an aide to former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
The second component included a variety of classes from which students chose, taught by Yale alumni and students. The elective classes covered a variety of topics day-to-day, from colonialism to political philosophy to reform of the International Criminal Court.
The last component of the program was a Model U.N.-style simulation of an international crisis in Sudan. Students took on the role of state actors, international organizations and aide groups to figure out how to solve the problem. John was assigned to represent the government of Somalia, and worked on the main issue as well as the side deals that stemmed from it. “In the end, Somalia ended up better off than the other countries in the region,” he said.
John plans to study International Relations and Politics in college, and Yale is one of the schools where he will apply.
If you see Matt and John around campus, take a few moments to chat with them about their experiences. You might pick up a new Mandarin phrase or two, or learn some diplomatic skills.