By Claire Goldsmith
Two sophomores will spend the 2012-2013 school year living with host families in foreign countries as part of the School Year Abroad program.
Alex McNab ’14 will live in Beijing, China while Matthew Kelson ’14 will attend the program in Rennes, France. In Beijing, McNab will integrate immersion in Chinese culture with his studies, exploring the city and his new surroundings.
“We’ll be in a history class one day, learning about building the Great Wall of China, and the next day we’ll be at the Great Wall of China,” McNab said. “They’ll also take us to places where we can really experience China and its people.”
McNab, who requested a family with “lots of kids” in his housing questionnaire, is most excited to meet new people and take advantage of the opportunities afforded him in the program.
“Having a new family will be hardest to adjust to,” he said. “I can meet new kids, and I’m used to going to new environments, but my home environment won’t be the same with a different family.
“I want to experience myself in a totally different way than I can experience myself here in America,” McNab said. “When I get back, I will be able to speak Chinese better and also know myself better.”
In the SYA school in Rennes, Kelson will take AP French Language and Culture, French Culture, French History and Art History classes, all taught in French, as well as traditional English and math classes in English. A fencer and member of Model United Nations, he hopes to sample new extracurricular activities in Rennes through the SYA school.
“I didn’t really want to have a conventional junior year, and going to Europe has always been something I would like to do,” Kelson said. “I’m excited about meeting new people, particularly French kids.”
On the weekends, SYA plans small trips to French cities and landmarks for SYA students but also allows them to travel independently throughout France in their free time.
“I want to go to Paris and maybe the south of France,” Kelson said. “I’ve been to Paris once, and I love Paris. I’ve never seen the south of France and it seems really incredible.”
Jeremy Bradford ’14 and Hansel Cortez ’14 will live with host families in France for five weeks in July and August as part of the SYA summer program.
Both have taken French for two years and want to expand their grasp of the language.
“It seemed like a great experience because I love French and want to be eloquent in it,” said Bradford.
Two sophomores will take the first semester of their junior year to live in the Colorado backcountry. Conor Belfield ’14 and Rachel Burdorf ’14 hope to hone their leadership skills in the Rocky Mountains at High Mountain Institute, reinforcing their studies with expeditions in the Rockies
“I’m very excited because [the semester] is something I’ll never get another chance to do,” Belfield said. “Living in Los Angles, you are always in a very urban surrounding, so it will be cool to experience things I’ve never done in a different environment.”