A summer well-spent
CFHS editorial highlights summer opportunities for juniors
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The winter of my freshman year I promised myself one thing: I would not spend the whole summer in my small town doing the same things I had always done. So, like any tech-fueled millennial, I hit up the internet. After hours of searching and digging through program after program, I eventually discovered a college course on global justice. Clocking in at three weeks in duration, this program was perfect for me, not too long but still enough time for me to really settle in on campus. Little did I realize that searching for summer opportunities would end up becoming a winter ritual for me throughout high school. Engaging in atypical summers opened up my world and exposed me to viewpoints I hadn’t encountered before. College programs as a whole offer high school students with extensive freedom and independance. Beyond the responsibility of taking a college-level curriculum, high schoolers often live in dorms and are given the chance to create their own schedule so long as they adhere to what I considered to be a generous curfew– 10 at night. For many participants including myself, the program served to provide a platform for making connections with peers, as well as professors and even solidify (or on occasion switch) their academic path before truly starting college.
For those students seeking an adventure beyond college courses, there’s a plentitude of study abroad programs open to high schoolers that cater to any interest and sometimes more importantly any budget. The summer after my sophomore year I was given the chance to travel to the Middle East on a full scholarship through the State Department called the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) and learn Arabic. Through studying abroad I learned to love a new language and culture. While NSLI-Y was a full seven weeks and involved a rigorous language component, many other study abroad organizations such as Rotary, Youth for Understanding and AFS, also offer shorter programs (as well as scholarships) that focus on culture or other interest areas. Studying abroad in high school may seem daunting; however, the experiences and perspective gained through taking that leap are well worth the risk.
But, spending time away from home isn’t integral to having fantastic and fulfilling summer plans. Volunteering and summer jobs can yield just as great of results provided they’re enjoyable to the person engaging in them. On of my best summers ever was spent working with refugees at an English as a Second Language (ESL) program near my house. That summer I was able to not only use my Arabic skills in a practical way, but forge close bonds with the students. I learned about a different cultures from around the globe and had a blast. I can’t imagine having spent my summer in a better way.
Be it working in one’s home community or flying across the globe, there’s a plethora of good and worthwhile ways to spend the summer. But students should start looking now as program deadlines loom and college students begin to fill summer jobs, and yes, even volunteering spots as spring turns to summer. Despite being occasionally difficult to find and apply to, summer opportunities lead to a much more productive and memorable break than watching Netflix or the like. Summer only happens once a year, make the most out of it.