alumni spotlight Tag

In 2009, Patrick Deem spent an academic year in Egypt on the NSLI-Y program. His interest in the Middle East grew from a combination of factors. Patrick’s grandfather was Egyptian, but he never had the chance to meet him as his mother was adopted. This aspect of his heritage had always intrigued him. He also saw many conflicting news stories about the region and wanted to experience it for himself. He was initially surprised both by how different and similar the U.S. and Egypt were. For example, there were shoppingRead More
Salman Haji, a Foreign Service Officer (FSO) for Public Diplomacy, is passionate about intercultural exchange, especially through language learning. This passion was inspired partly by a verse from the Qur’an that addresses the importance of the nations of the earth knowing one another. It also greatly stems from his first international exchange experiences with NSLI-Y. Salman learned a lot about cultural adaptation and appreciation from NSLI-Y and built lasting relationships with host families and communities. “When I started doing … exchange programs, I realized that … when you put asideRead More
Annabeth Gellman began studying Chinese in tenth grade and learned of NSLI-Y through her Chinese teacher. In the summer of 2009, just after graduating, she participated in the NSLI-Y Chinese program in Shanghai. Upon arriving in China, one major challenge was learning the transportation system. This was her first experience with international travel, and her host family lived on the outskirts of Shanghai with no subway line. As a result, her commute to school involved finding her way on several modes of transportation. In order to succeed, she often foundRead More
Julius Mitchell says he began studying Chinese by accident. He had studied Spanish in his middle school in Chicago and had hoped to continue it in high school. When registering for language classes at his math, science and world language high school, he listed Spanish as his first choice and, on a whim, listed Chinese as his second choice. When he was placed in Chinese classes, he was shocked at first, but quickly fell in love with the language. He especially enjoyed using a different part of his brain toRead More

Posted On August 14, 2017By Ligaya BeebeIn Chinese (Mandarin)

Rewarding Challenges: Natalie in China

Natalie Johnson was raised in Milwaukee. As a child, she developed an interest in East Asia through her passion for anime. During her junior year of high school, she took a Global History class that covered modern Chinese history, which sparked a specific interest in China and a desire to experience it firsthand. At this time, she learned about NSLI-Y through her older sister. Her dreams came true when she participated in the summer 2014 and academic year 2015-16 programs in China. Her NSLI-Y experiences were rewarding, but also challenging.Read More

Posted On September 7, 2016By Ligaya BeebeIn Turkish

Making Friends in a New Language: Gianna in Turkey

Gianna Brassil was raised in San Francisco, California in a multicultural family. Her mother is of Nicaraguan and Peruvian descent and her father is Australian. This diverse heritage and her family’s love of international travel sparked her interest in cultures and languages at a young age. By the time she started high school, Gianna wanted to try living abroad on her own. She learned about NSLI-Y from a Facebook post by a NSLI-Y alumna and was eager to apply. She says that while the application process was straightforward, she feltRead More