Believe it or not, this is a question I get quite often. Bosnia-Herzegovina is a country in Europe and I’m going to Botswana, in southern Africa. You’re probably wondering how any American (we’re so gifted in geography) could confuse the two. Well, I did send someone to Bosnia (OK, it wasn’t really me that sent her, but close) and she is there at the same time I’m in Botswana. So, I can see how it would be tricky.
I wanted to dedicate a post to one of my students, Tana Korhonen, who is currently studying in Bosnia-Herzegovina this year. I feel like she’s become part of my Fulbright experience as she applied for her YES Abroad Scholarship shortly after I completed my Fulbright application. We experienced all of the lows and highs of applying for a major abroad experience at the same time. Let me spit you some facts:
Hometown: Kettle River (AKA: Moose Lake)
Grade: Junior in HS
Currently living in: Banja Luka, Bosnia
Length of stay: August 2016-June 2017!
Application Process: TOUGH
Tana was one of 65 students selected nationwide for the Yes Abroad Scholarship. This scholarship is run by the Kennedy Foundation in coordination with the Department of State. It aims to bridge communities and create mutual understanding between the US and countries with predominant Muslim populations. Currently, students are able to travel to 13 countries including: Ghana, Turkey, Thailand, Jordan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Philippines, Bulgaria, Macedonia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco, and Senegal. I recently asked Tana a few questions about her experience, here’s what she had to say:
Me and my host sister also get along super well, and I am so happy I get to live with them. At school, I have so many great friends and I look forward to going to school each day so I can see everyone. I really feel like I belong in my class, and they have said the same to me. Exchange is all about forming connections, and the connections I have formed in the past three months have made my life here amazing.
I currently don’t have any flights booked for future travel (yet), but I have always been one to have ideas in my head. When returning to the United States, I hope to visit a few out of state colleges. I am still undecided as to where I want to apply, but I want to travel to the east coast to tour Yale, and a few other universities. I also am hoping to tour University of Chicago and the University of Washington in Seattle, but I realize that is a lot to do in one summer. There are also many great universities in my home-state of Minnesota, so I will also try to tour many schools there. I’m also hoping to, at some point in the near future, travel to Germany to stay with my best friend Paula. As for the future in general, it’s impossible to say specific places I want to go, because I’d like to go everywhere. I love seeing the world and new cultures, so I hope to do that as much as possible. I am even looking into careers that would bring me all around the world.
*Update: Tana applied for an international boarding school and recently had her first interview. If she makes it to the second round, she’ll have to do a face-to-face interview in New Mexico. Fingers crossed, but she might be living in the Netherlands next year!!
Tana is extraordinary. I’m so stinkin’ proud of her I could cry. In fact, when she found out she received the scholarship, I did cry. If I hadn’t received my Fulbright, it was my intention to visit her in Bosnia during spring break. Looks like I’ll just have to visit the Netherlands next year instead! Obviously, traveling is a passion of ours but to see so many more kids from our small community interested in traveling the world warms my heart. Awwwwwww.
The effect experiencing another culture has on a person is seriously profound. (Seriously-–Tana regularly texts me in Serbian and then remembers its me and I don’t speak Serbian). As I’m gearing up for my adventure, she’s almost midway through hers. Keep on keeping on lady! Miss you!