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,



  1. A HUGE thank you for posting this!!! I applied for YES Abroad this year, and it's comforting to know what/when you'll hear if you're a Semi-Finalist!

    1. Hey, no problem! There's a Facebook group of this years applicants if you care to join. Lots of other kids are freaking out over there :)