Written by Elizabeth Chung
This summer, 23 students from Gunn were given opportunities to study abroad through Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE). Through CIEE, students were able to explore different cultures and learn new skill sets as they immersed themselves in one of the three unique educational programs that the program provided.
The Language and Culture program was for students who wanted to learn a language of their choice for four weeks while staying with the local host family. Sophomore Pauline Her, who participated in the Language and Culture program in Guanajuato, Mexico, saw the trip as not only an opportunity to improve her Spanish, but also as an opportunity to experience a new environment.
“I got to learn about a whole new place because I have never been outside of the United States except for South Korea,” Her said. “At first, I was awkward with my host family because it was my first time staying with a host family and I didn’t know how to act. I wasn’t sure about my Spanish level but my host family helped me along the way.”
Senior Amanda Yee decided to partake in the program to enrich her knowledge of Japan. “On family trips, I would usually visit tourist spots rather than explore what the country is really like,” Yee said. “I was always interested in Japanese culture so I wanted to experience what Japanese lifestyle was like.”
The Global Discovery program helped students learn outside of a classroom setting and get hands on experience. For junior Sophia Guccione, her experience at Kralendijk, Bonaire exceeded expectations. “My favorite moment was when we went for a dive at the crescent of the island,” Guccione said. “We took a boat up there and then jumped off. It had the most amazing breeze and the aqua shallows at the drop off and it was beautiful. It was definitely a huge experience that I will never forget.”
Senior Adele Colwell participated in the “Biodiversity and Conservation” program in Monteverde, Costa Rica. She was initially nervous, but was able to learn more about the world and grow through her experience abroad. “I was hesitant to apply to the program in the first place but you just have to put yourself out there,” Colwell said. “If you find something interesting, just go for it. Just embrace it and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone because that’s where you end up having the most personal growth.”
Colwell believes that through facing challenges of learning outside of the familiarity and comfort of Gunn classrooms, one is able to expand one’s point of view. Because of this, Colwell recommends that other students should take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad if they can. “There is only so much you can learn in a classroom,” Colwell said. “You don’t really get the opportunity very often. Studying abroad gives you a new perspective and allows you to learn more than in a normal classroom.”