By Gabby Ricketts, Jacob King, Morgan
Gadient, Zakary Brite and Alexa VanBaale
Southport High School students
The IU Honors Program provides the opportunity for high school students to enhance their secondary languages while studying abroad. A combination of instruction and required language commitment, the program provides host families that allow students to venture into a new culture.
Eligible students have to be advanced in the language they are studying and must be dedicated to their studies.
In order to excel in a language while participating in the program, organizers say it is best that students only speak their secondary tongues. This means that there is a limited amount of time (one hour per week) that students are allowed to talk with their families back home.
Southport seniors Jensen Smith and Micah Harvey-King and 2014 graduates Caeli Malloy and Katie Hinh participated in the program over the summer. Smith and Harvey-King studied in Spain, Malloy in Mexico and Hinh in China.
“It was literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Smith said. “After that experience I’d like to travel more.”
Each student was assigned to a host family, which in turn made the students feel like they were a part of the family.
“My host family was helpful and understanding,” Malloy said. “They really contributed in making my experience worthwhile.”
The students faced challenges such as not being able to speak their native language for the entire summer.
“It was difficult at first, but after a week or so it just became natural.” Harvey-King said.
Smith embraced the challenge of not being able to speak English. “I found that when you’re trying to speak a second language that you’re not familiar with, you can never get bored,” he said. I could sit and talk to a wall for an hour and have the time of my life. It was fun trying to speak Spanish all the time. The real challenge was trying to switch back to English when I came back.”
Hinh climbed the Great Wall of China, walked through the Forbidden City, traveled through the canals of Suzhou and sailed on the West Lake. “Those experiences are amazing and they can’t be repeated anywhere else in the world.” she said.
King said his favorite part of the program was meeting new people and making friends. “The people I was with really made the experience for me. I loved spending time with my American friends and my new Spanish friends.”
However, nothing is perfect, and for Malloy it was the climate. “Every day it was so hot and humid, and air conditioning wasn’t a common commodity where I stayed in Mexico,” she said. Even with the heat, she agreed that it was an amazing experience.