Monday, August 20, 2012

Swaziland, NSLI-Y Rosetta Stone, and Free Exchange Programs

This turned out to be a really long post, so it's split into three parts. Read what you would like.

I got home from ten weeks away from home yesterday afternoon. Within two hours, I was already bored, and so I decided to open up the joining papers for WK (Waterford Kamhlaba).

First of all, the above image is from the immigration papers for the long-term visa. Just thought I'd include that - it's a first reminder for me that the country where I'll be moving is going to be quite a bit different, especially after my last ten weeks working with truly amazing special needs campers, none of whom I would consider deficient in any way. It's a more-than-subtle reminder that the culture shock reaches beyond food and dress. Acceptance and lack thereof, of many different things, seems to always be the hardest culture difference for me to swallow. This wasn't really surprising for me to see, but still raised my eyebrows for a moment.

Secondly, I realized how excited I am to go to Swaziland. I absolutely loved every moment of this summer, and miss my campers dearly, but now that I'm home, I'm already looking to the next thing. I didn't think about where I'm headed in January much while at camp, but now that the 24/7 work schedule is over with, I have time to be excited! I have to admit, I starting packing last night - there is a pile of things in the corner of my room that have been designated as "bring with." Mostly things I want to decorate my room with, but it still made me laugh when I realized I was packing already.

Anyways, I start back at my high school here on Wednesday - I'll keep attending classes there until the last day before winter break, which isn't the last day of the semester, but will be my last day. The weird thing for me is that I've taken all the French classes my high school has to offer, through AP French V, so I don't have a foreign language class this semester. (I'll be taking English, French and siSwati as language classes at the UWC, I think).

I'm going to work really hard this semester to keep up with Arabic and French this semester using the free Rosetta Stone I get as an alumni of NSLI-Y - I've been getting a lot of questions from other alumni about how to get that software, so here's the step-by-step. They definitely didn't make it easy to find! (This is for alumni only, and isn't available to everyone - sorry about that! If you are eligible to apply, I definitely recommend applying for a state department program - see the next section in this post!)

  1. Create an account on - make sure you register as a NSLI-Y alumni.
  2. Once registered, on the homepage of the website, under where it says "new mail" on the right hand side, under communities, click "NSLI-Y"
  3. In the center column of the next page, under language Library, hit "Login to JLU."
  4. On the next page, the third tab down on the right hand side has a green binder on it, reading "Resources." Click that.
  5. Rosetta Stone will be on that list - you register to be placed on a waiting list, and in maybe a month or two you'll get an email that it's become available for you.
I get lots of questions on how I'm paying to go to places like Jordan and Swaziland - I'm not. I went to Jordan with NSLI-Y, which is a full scholarship. I'm also attending UWC on a full scholarship, excluding flights, which I'll be paying for out of my wages working at camp. Both of these, and several other programs, are full scholarships based on merit - they don't take finances into consideration. Here are a few of the free exchange programs you can apply to when you're high school aged.

(These programs are open to US citizens - if you're not a US citizen, check out if you want programs to come to the US).

  1. NSLI-Y ( Offers summer and year programs (including gap years) in Taiwan, China, South Korea, Turkey, Russia, Tajikistan, Jordan, Oman, Morocco, India, and others. Very focused on language learning.  (Eligibility: 15-18 years old at start of program, minimum 2.5 HS GPA)
  2. YES ( Offers mostly-year long (one semester program) to live in a Muslim society. Countries include B&H, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Mali (semester), Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Thailand, Turkey. Very focused on culture, little language training. (Eligibility: Different by country, check website. Mostly 15-18 years old).
  3. CBYX ( Offers year-long scholarships to study in Germany. Must be 15-18 years old, 3.0 GPA.
  4. UWC ( Two years at one of their campuses. Out of about 600 applicants, 25 are accepted to the US campus, and 25 are accepted to be split up among the other campuses around the world, such as B&H, Italy, Norway, Wales, India,  Singapore, Hong Kong, Swaziland, and Costa Rica. It's a full scholarship for room, board, and tuition for the two school years, but airfare is on you. All schools follow the northern hemisphere school schedule, except for Swaziland, which runs January to November each year. Eligibility is a bit more complex, but the link describes it pretty well. Be warned, this will most likely add a year onto high school for you, as they accept people to attend often for their senior and then an extra year, and only rarely junior and senior year.

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