Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Incredible People Stalking Event (aka the IPSE)

Oh what to say about the beloved IPSE? It doesn't actually mean Incredible People Stalking Event, in fact it means the In Person Selection Event, but all-in-all, it means the same.

IPSE was incredible, to say the least. After a two-hour flight sitting by a middle-aged mom and her really weird teenage son and NOT knowing who Carson was who was supposed to be my flying buddy, I landed in Denver, Colorado. As soon as I found the group, Carly (a girl from Facebook!) jumped up and hugged me before I could even remember who it was. What I love about our YES Abroad Facebook group? We know people before we even personally meet them. Win. After waiting in the hot sun for our shuttle and meeting plenty of new people, we eventually boarded our shuttle to the hotel. As soon as I got my name tag (which is now covered in dinosaur and Disney stickers), got my Semi-Finalist notebook, and my group number, I entered the room and saw Olivia's bright pink hair (another Facebook-er!). Everyone was confused on how Carly, Olivia, and I all knew each other because so many people knew nothing of our facebook group.
Our beloved facebook group :) (from left to right: Carly, me, Hannah, Sarah, Olivia)
To spare you from minute-by-minute details, IPSE was awesome. It included of a workshop, two group evaluations (my group's tower was the best tower in the world. Not the tallest, but the best), and our individual interviews. The room was terrifying. Not the small, enclosed space for your interview, but the room where all five interviews were going at once. It looked like such:
I was in the room farthest to the right. Like I said: Terrifying.

The weekend continued with making lots of new friends, ridiculous photos, and hopefully the beginning to an amazing exchange to either Morocco, Bosnia, or Turkey. Bosnia and Morocco are definitely tied at this point. There was no talent show this year, which was really sad, seeing as how we wanted to do our Baby It's Friday drime :) There was plenty of down time to hang out in our room (Sara was my roommate, so our Facebook group hung out there often. Hence the weird photo above) or go on Facebook and add in all the members that we met. We talked and met fabulous new people and I dearly hope I will meet most of them in DC for Orientation. One can hope.

More pictures will be added as I go along. I just haven't finished editing my photos and I need to get that done.

On NSLI-Y news! The date of notifications has been moved back. Originally it was end of March. Now it is the end of April. Hopefully I'll hear back from both YES and NSLI-Y on the same day? Perhaps? But waiting will be the death of me, I swear. I just want to know my status, is that too much to ask for?

Anyway, off to much needed sleep!
Until I feel like freaking out again,

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Daunting Days

    The next couple days will be daunting. Why, you may ask. Well. Within the next two weeks I will be busy with school, work, auditions for the play I'm directing, and (you named it) preparing for IPSE (In-Person Selection Event).

    I fly out March 24 to Colorado for the three-day interview event for YES. My fellow Cultures-Shocked/Facebook buddies and I are doing a remix of Baby by Justin Bieber and Friday by Rebecca Black for the non-talent show which we are super excited about. We just need recruits! Our group is seriously crazy with all of us counting down the days until IPSE (I pronounce it like "ihpse", I've heard it like "ipsie" and others say "I-P-S-E"... not sure what is correct?) Other than that, IPSE will be filled with activities, interviews, games, and all-round one of the best weekends ever! Hopefully... the only thing that would make it better is if it was followed by a "Congratulations, you've been selected for the YES abroad scholarship to Morocco/Bosnia and Herzegovina!" Seriously, if it said one of those two places I would scream, jump up and down, dance, and then fall into a fit of hysterical laughter whilst hyperventilating. Probably not healthy.

    Which reminds me, I changed my country order yet again to Morocco, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey, Oman, Thailand, India, Mali, Malaysia, Indonesia, Egypt, Ghana. I believe only the first three are really taken into account, but the other countries are important also.

     On NSLI-Y news, we get notified if we've been selected for the scholarship at the beginning of April which will be almost immediately after IPSE. I'm freaking out. It would be a dream come true if I got BOTH scholarships, but I just need one to give me the OK. Oman is now a country if you are selected for Arabic, which adds to the list already complied of Morocco, Jordan, and Egypt. Except I believe they are removing Egypt and replacing it with Oman? I'm not entirely sure, I just heard Oman is now possible. Which would be SICK.

Anyway, off to homework!

Until after IPSE when I have more to write about other than nervousness and craziness,

Saturday, March 3, 2012

This would be me...

    So, originally I wasn't going to post anything. Just leave this blank until I saw those magical words appear on my e-mail, "Congratulations you have been selected for this exchange program for 2012-2013!" But as of right now, all I've heard is that I'm a semi-finalist for both. Which I've been dying to tell the world, so perhaps now is a good time to do it.
But before we get there, a little about me!

    I'm Katie, a junior in high school. Just writing this makes me feel old, like I need to start considering what I'm going to do with the rest of my life. Oh my gosh SCARY THOUGHTS. Last summer I spent six weeks in France with Rotary Youth Exchange. After six weeks of an exchange, I found myself wanting more. So I applied for two scholarship exchange programs this year, Youth Exchange and Study (YES) and the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y).  Within the past six months or so, I have worked to the bone to perfect essays, fetch recommendations, find a good picture of myself, and translate in proper English how badly I want to be an exchange student next year.
    I submitted NSLI-Y first the day it was due. November 8, 2011 with only maybe a few hours to spare before I would be considered ineligible. I then spent the next month mostly focusing on my YES application, which although similar to NSLI-Y, focused on other key elements of wanting to go on this exchange (why going to a Muslim country significant; why is living with a host family important).
    Then on December 7, 2011 I received my e-mail unexpectedly from NSLI-Y
Dear Katie:
You have been selected as a semi-finalist for the NSLI-Y program!
    I couldn't really believe it for a moment! I submitted that application feeling iffy that I would even get a response! But when it showed up, I couldn't have been happier at that moment. My Senior Year was looking up already.

    I then spent the next month prepping for my NSLI-Y interview (which was awesome) and finishing my YES application which wording was now switched to match NSLI-Y's. If I won them over with the first one, I can do it again :) I submitted YES in mid January 2012 and then waited, what felt like the longest wait ever. I knew from the beginning YES was going to be more difficult to get with only 90 spots available for semi-finalists, rather than 1400 for NSLI-Y. I ached waiting for reply with my fellow applicants as we counted down the days to the supposed day of our e-mail. On the day we expected it to come, we were teased with a reminder to get our medical forms filled out which, at first, turned everyone into a mini panic.
    But then, on the last day of February (a leap year, no less), we all received our e-mails of our status.
Dear YES Abroad Applicant,
The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Abroad consortium is pleased to inform you that the Scholarship Review Committee has chosen you as a Semi-Finalist for the YES Abroad program.
    I screamed with joy and excitement as I quickly logged onto my Facebook and saw my other new friends and applicants saying they were semi-finalists too. And we'd all be meeting in Denver in three weeks. 

    The In-Person Selection Event is exciting, but taunting no less. I'm excited to prove I will be a good exchange student who will make friend and represent America well. But I feel if I do one thing wrong, my exchange is out the window. However, I'm pumped. I can't wait to be flown to Denver and meet these people. This entire thing is just thrilling.

    Anyway, as I am probably not going to share this unless I become an exchange student, this is open for anyone who finds it :)

    Until next time,