Saturday, January 30, 2010

Våra Året: Mitt Liv I Finland)~(Our Year: My Life In Finland

Hello my name is Michelle Van Wart, a 16 year old senior at Independence High School, and currently residing in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. My dream is to do many spectacular things throughout my life, but for now I would like to focus on foreign exchange.

I have never traveled outside the United States before, but I have often dreamt of it! Since I was little, my sister and I were raised with both the American and Japanese culture. It was from this that I developed a fascination for more than just the world around me. I have been thirsting for culture ever since! So, to get the chance to see a culture first hand and unlike any other excursion, it was something I was very excited for!

Now, what exactly is foreign exchange?

[Well, there are many companies out there but, I have decided that I would like to go through the American Field Service (AFS).]

Foreign exchange, through the American Field Service, or AFS, company would place me with a host family, in a foreign country, for one entire year. This year would be the year to end all years! Through my year abroad I will be taught culture; by living with a host family, I will get special inside look into the country, one that cannot be obtained through a 4-week vacation. I would preform day to day tasks just like the other teenagers my age would: such as chores, going to school, and participating in sports and other activites! I would also learn a new language at a fluency that only immersion can give me. This is very important to me as I love languages but, though I know a bit of many, I am not fluent in anything but English at this point. Being abroad, I would also learn independence and self-sufficiency. This is because, though I have the guidance of a host family, I will make decisions for myself that I would not normally have to do if I were at home.

All in all, this opportunity will help me grow as a person, because I would be placed in situations different from my day-to-day life in America. I would learn to problem solve, increase my independence, and become more confident in the decisions I make for myself; as well as becoming a global citizen.

The country I am wanting to experience is Finland. Finland has so much to offer! Finland is still 1/3 forest. It has a small population for the land mass at about 5.2 million people. Plus, Finnish and Swedish are my favorite languages, and also both official languages of Finland. I love the cold, which is good because Finland is the second highest north country in the world (The first being Iceland)! The climate would be so different from my own. Finally, I want to share the culture of the country I go to; Finland would give me a chance to share a relatively unknown culture, in the U.S. at least.

As you can see, exchange has so very much to offer, that it really is an opporutnity I cannot pass up! Especially because you never get to do an exchange like this once you reach a certain age; after around 18 years and 6 months, the only exchanges open to you really are college ones (Those are really different because you don't generally get a host family).

I have the drive, the desire, flexibility and the maturity to take on this experience. However, it does not come free nor cheap. A rough estimate of costs is about $12,500; The program cost is around $10,500, a passport costs roughly $100, a visa is about $200-$300, and spending money is reccomended to be in the $2,000 range. Now, realize that economy is not doing so well right now but I need your help!

I truly feel that this chance-of-a-lifetime should not be missed just because I may not currently have some of the means to do it! Because of this, I am trying many different fundraising ideas to make my dream come true! One of my fundraisers is located right on this page, in fact!

If you would like to help support my dream then please locate the Chip-in widget on this page and contribute by clicking the button; there is no amount too small, I appreciate any and all of your support! Even if you cannot contribute in money, perhaps you know someone who can? Helping get the word out about this blog is just as valuable a donation as anything else!

Thank you for your time!

Prospective AFS Outbound
Finland 2010-2011