Saturday, March 31, 2012

NSLI-Y Morocco 2012

I've been accepted to NSLI-Y to Morocco with Legacy International... as an alternate.

It's kind of like a waitlist, being an alternate. I get to go if someone else drops out. Actually, all four of us that applied after going to Jordan are all alternates for it.

It stinks for three reasons. First, somebody has to drop out for me to go. Which leaves me in the awkward position of hoping somebody can't go - which I hate, because I want everyone in the entire world to be able to do NSLI-Y and see how amazing it is. Secondly, with four of us as alternates for the exact same program, we're competing against each other. Which I suppose we have been doing the entire time, but it's worse now. Finally, there's a chance I might not find out for another month and a half, which is simply hard to wait for.

But it's good, I suppose. I haven't been rejected, and there's still a chance I might go. A lot of alternates get accepted, it's not like it's an entirely lost cause. And I'm definitely thankful for the opportunity to go again, but it's still frustrating. I appreciate everything that NSLI-Y has already given me though.

Well, I guess I'll be spending all day today trying to seek out summer programs that aren't really expensive, whether it ends up being STARTALK or working at a Girl Scout Camp, or whatever else comes up. And I'm definitely still hoping (and dying so badly to hear from) the UWCs. I get nervous just thinking about it!

It's strange now, looking back from the first post on this blog, about having been given the chance to study abroad for the summer, and now being in the other position - waiting for someone else to have to drop out so that I can go. It's strange to hear everyone who has been accepted say where they're going, and with what program, for what language. I love it, don't get me wrong, but it's strange. Because they're such amazing people, and I don't want any of them to have to miss out on this chance. But I definitely want to be able to go again as well. I'm not sure what to think about all of this. I'm not devastated or anything, as there's still a chance, and I already had my free study abroad for one summer, but I'm definitely not really happy either. I'm not quite sure what to think.

Regardless, NSLI-Y definitely started something for me as far as international studies goes, and even if this one summer doesn't work out like I had wished, it's definitely not the end. I'm still reaching for the UWCs, and hopefully later a whole other list of magical things... NYU Abu Dhabi, Peace Corps, Doctors Without Borders, CLS, and so on and so forth. And while NSLI-Y is still up in the air, that list makes me smile anyways :)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Wisconsin Public Radio

During my interview, there was mention of a radio broadcast about the UWCs on WPR the following day, but since I'm not from Wisconsin I kind of forgot about it. But today, I found a link online to the broadcast, and listened to it. Andrew was a guest on the program, he was the representative from the selection committee that ran the day of interviews and also did my indiviual interview. Naya and Bettina were both alumni there that day that we could ask questions too; Naya is a producer of the program and Bettina is a guest. This is probably the first time that I've ever heard a radio broadcast of this sort where I knew the people on the air, especially when the broadcast is about something I'm so interested in, which makes the whole recording really fascinating to me.

Well, here's the link - enjoy! 

Monday, March 19, 2012


It kind of hit me today that there's about a 50-50 chance of me finishing high school at a UWC.

Hopefully I'm in the right 50 :) These next five weeks are going to be rough...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

International Night Pic and UWC Interview

Here's a picture from International Night last night!

AND MY UWC INTERVIEW WAS TODAY! It went really, really well. Regardless of what happens as far as acceptances (even though I definitely want to get accepted :D), it was really interesting to sit around for a day with a bunch of awesome people and talk about the world and the schools. I don't want to say any specifics about what we did, because I have no idea who reads this and I don't want to give anything away that would ruin the fun. So I'll just talk about stuff that should only apply for our event.

There were 15 applicants at the interview, along with three selection committee members and eleven or twelve alumni. Everyone was really cool, and we all got along really well. There were more girls than guys, but  from what I've heard, that's standard for exchange program type things. Anyways, everyone was really excited, and we all sat around and talked to the alumni all morning, while they pulled us out one-by-one for individual interviews. It was really great to be able to hear from so many different alumni, from a few different schools. There were alumni from American West (USA), Mahindra (India), Li Po Chun (Hong Kong), and Atlantic (Wales). I kind of wished that there had been someone from Red Cross Nordic (Norway) or Waterford Kamhlaba (Swaziland), but it makes sense that there simply aren't alumni of every school hanging around in Madison. It was really great to be able to talk with those who were there.


That afternoon, our parents came and picked us up, and we all left. At least before the interview, I felt like I could still do something, but now it's all out of my hands. In some ways, way less stressful, and yet in some ways, more stressful than ever. Still really excited and hopeful though :)

From here, they do another few weekends of interviews in different cities, and then the selection committee meets up the weekend of the 21st of April, and they essentially just sit down and pick. They send us results later that week, so for now, I've just got a lot of waiting to do. I should be hearing about NSLI-Y rather soon, but that's another story altogether. Lots of stress, but good stress.

I'm so giddy from this whole day - it just put me in a really good, excited, I-can't-believe-I-have-a-50-50-chance-of-attending-this-school mood. It's a pretty great mood to be in :)

Friday, March 16, 2012

4H International Night

Tonight is 4H International Night at the fairgrounds, and our club is doing Jordan!

Internation Night is where each club picks a country, does some research, and creates a booth about their country, complete with flags, food, posters, and souvenirs and objects if they can get them. After this summer,  we've got plenty :)

So I've got a box in front of me with everything I'm bringing to display, along with the poster that we put together last week. I've got a couple of scarves, a galabaya, an Arabic keyboard, a bunch of Arabic books, a Qu'ran, a few different sorts of dictionaries, some children's books, a prayer rug, and some prayer beads. And I'm wearing my flag bracelet, and my seeing eye bracelet. And I framed a five dinar note and a one dinar note to display as well. I don't think I realized the amount of "stuff" I brought back until now, nor did I realize how many books I brought back, and how few "souvenirs."

But this makes me really happy. I'll definitely post some pictures after tonight - it should look pretty cool!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

NSLI-Y Notifications... already??!

Don't worry, nothing for Arabic went out today. I'm still just waiting (and freaking out in my head :D).

Bur Russia and India summer acceptances went out today, so it's the start of the hot streak. The Facebook group exploded, ExchangesConnect exploded, and all of us who are still waiting to hear? Our brains are ready to explode as well.

Anyways, this doesn't mean anything whatsoever for anybody who didn't apply for Russian or Hindi, but to all those who were accepted, congratulations! If you're a Russian/Hindi kid who hasn't heard back, don't fret! It's rolling basis, you could still hear - also, alternates have a very high chance of being able to go as well.

Nonetheless, I'm still more stressed out than a turkey around Thanksgiving. But it's a really, really, good stressed out.

Oh, and I bought a shirt for my UWC interview on Saturday. I literally didn't own a single dress shirt that would be appropriate for this sort of weather - most of my interviews are in the winter, and I have one dress sweater that I wore to ALL OF THEM! As I hate shopping it wasn't the most pleasant afternoon. But it's totally worth it! I can't wait for that interview either - so much going on!

This post makes no sense. I can't even think straight....

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

"Home is wherever I'm with you."

In waiting for NSLI-Y notifications to come out this year, we've been thinking about last year quite a bit (by we, I mean myself and another one of the girls from Jordan who applied again and is a semifinalist with me).

Exchange programs are strange things. You go learn about the culture, and for NSLI-Y specifically, as it is funded as a language learning program, to study the target language. But I assure you, if you return having only learned verb conjugations and vocabulary words, you've wasted your time.

This is a post about the NSLI-Y group. While we definitely were immersed in the Middle East itself, it's not to say that we didn't become tight-knit as a group. Sometimes I wonder if it's ridiculous to have fallen in love with everyone and everything so quickly this summer. The program director in DC commented when we got back that we were closer as a group than she'd ever seen before. (I can't remember if that was before or after we all ended up with pudding on our noses at dinner...). Maybe it was because there were only 15 of us, and it wasn't a group of 30 or 40. Maybe it was simply because a lot happened, which sounds strange, but I feel like we had more of adventure than might be typical. Being on an exchange like this is kind of like being in a band. It's not that you're isolated, because there are people all around, all the time. There's very little privacy, and yet you and the other band members end up being closer than you could have ever imagined. Maybe it's because we could only speak English to each other, or maybe it's because we were the ones sharing everything with each other. No matter how much I love Arabic, after six weeks of class, there were times I just needed to talk in English about stuff that you can't say in a second language that fast. We all shared everything with each other, good and bad. That's enough to make any group be as close as we were.

After the summer, I come back to the States, and look around at everyone. The strangest thing was in DC, seeing ourselves in the same places we had met each other, seven weeks before. Except this time, we were the furthest thing from strangers. I remember hanging out in the pool our first night together. It was strange, and awkward. I remember studying Arabic altogether in someone's room the next night, not quite sure what to make of each other. But after a summer together, halfway around the world, the awkwardness was more than gone. We didn't sleep our last night - at all. We couldn't bear to sleep through a moment together.

So, now we're waiting to find out about another summer. We can't help but wonder how it will change, as last summer so was much defined by the people in the group. Sure, we'll be studying the same language if we get accepted (insha'allah), but that means almost nothing. The point of an exchange isn't words and grammar - you can learn that in a classroom at home. Exchange is something to learn more than that. I can't tell you what it is here, it's something to be discovered. Whether you do that in the target language, or in English as a result of the target, it becomes one in the same. And you fall in love with all of it, even if you were only there for six weeks.

And so she posted this video on my Facebook. It was kind of a theme song for us this summer, one of the few songs we all knew before getting there that we could sing along to when we needed it. But it's true, "home is wherever I'm with you." It's strange like that.

And so here we are, waiting to find out about next year, anxious to hear about our next adventure. I'm definitely excited to be able to use Arabic on a daily basis again, but I'm also just excited to see what this summer will turn into. iA :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Louder Than A Bomb

So my friend is really talented. She's pretty awesome, and she did this poem for Louder Than A Bomb, a  poetry slam in Chicago, and their team qualified for the nationals, mainly because they're awesome.

It's based on life in Jordan from this summer, and I just smiled watching it, and feel like sharing. (By the way, the Chicago-style pizza referenced? I take credit for that one. And my host mom gets credit for the crust though :D).

So, here's the link - enjoy! 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Favorite Places

All right, this is more just to occupy my brain than anything. Also, sometimes I just have these moments when I'm scared I'm going to forget something, and I feel the need to write it down somewhere. So here it is, at least for these two moments.
This is the plaza outside of the Husseini Mosque in downtown Amman. It's always hustling and bustling, especially around the end of Friday prayers, when this was taken. There are people hawking fruit, and people shopping, and people leaving the mosque itself. It's one of those places that just standing there makes your head spin from so much excitement and people everywhere. From where I was taking this picture, to my left there is a small bookshop and an alleyway that acts as a fruit market, right next to the mosque. Behind me, about a block away, is the Roman ampitheater, a well known attraction in Amman. And to my right would be all the shops and side roads of downtown. And above would be the minaret of the mosque, lit up with the green lights of every minaret in the city. I love this place so much, it makes me happy just to think about it.

This is my host family's farm outside of Amman, near Al-Salt. First of all, it was the first time in several weeks that I had left Amman, and so I was really happy just to be in a more wide open space, and to be able to see something new. It was actually really spur of the moment. I was awake on a Saturday before my  immediate host family woke up, so I wandered upstairs to see if anyone else was awake, and my two uncles and my cousin were getting ready to go out to the farm for the morning. They knew that we had a farm in the states, and asked if I wanted to come with, as long as I could be ready in ten minutes. Knowing me, I was dressed and ready in five minutes flat, and we headed out to the farm. 

There were plenty of stories from that morning, like when we drove to the neighbors' house to borrow a barrel to use for water, and in true Jordanian style, they invited us in for tea, and we stopped and hung out at this woman's house for half an hour or so. There were a bunch of little kids running around, and they kept staring at me. While I was used to staring by this point in the trip, this was different. I joked about it, asking what they were looking at. They said they'd never met anyone who spoke English before. That really hit me, just because while I understand that English is not as widely spoken as some tour books try to make it sound, and most people don't speak English, almost everyone in Amman has heard it before, or met someone who spoke it. It was kind of humbling in a way to be the first English-speaker the kids had ever met. Maybe humbling isn't the right word, I'm not quite sure. But it was definitely thought-provoking. Knowing you're in a place where your language is not even on the radar is amazing.

Well, that's all for now! I'm just trying to occupy my brain in this dreadful waiting game I'm in :) Now, back to math homework!