CIEE students see the world through exchange program

Story by Anna Schecterson, Editor-in-chief

Senior Carolina Koricke poses in front of the Plaza de Toros Las Ventas in Madrid, Spain.
Courtesy of Caroline Koricke
Senior Carolina Koricke poses in front of the Plaza de Toros Las Ventas in Madrid, Spain.

Most people’s dreams of traveling the world are put off by sky-high airfare prices and other travel costs.

But with help from CIEE, or the Council for International Educational Exchange, high school students now have a way to make those dreams a reality.

For the second year in a row, East Meck has been awarded CIEE’s Global Navigator Scholarship. Each year, CIEE selects top schools across the country to receive the scholarship to help facilitate student summer travel. This summer, CIEE students can choose from 16 destination countries and programs of study that range from cultural immersion to marine biology.

Last summer, junior Sara Holley took a month-long trip to Tokyo, Japan to study Japanese language and culture as part of a 60-hour immersion program with CIEE.

“…It was very speaking oriented, it was very interactive…” she said. “The time that I spent in Tokyo was more about what it’s like to live there.”

If she had paid the whole cost of the trip her on her own, Holley said, she would have had no chance of going. But fortunately for her, CIEE paid 92 percent of the cost of the trip.

Holley, an IB student, discovered the scholarship through IB Coordinator Heather LaJoie, who in turn heard about it last year through a colleague at Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. LaJoie thought it might be a good fit for East because of the high level of student interest in foreign language studies.

“When you look at the fact that there are 1,900 kids at this school and 1,300 take a language course, that’s pretty amazing,” she said.

The schools chosen by CIEE each receive $20,000 to be split amongst their traveling students, but last year, East was granted an extra $4,000.

“[CIEE] had additional monies that they could award… if [the schools] had people that were so fabulous that we need to award more,” LaJoie said.

Sophomore Emily Wichman, junior Jordan Hardin, and seniors Kyle Fossum and Caroline Koricke also studied abroad with CIEE through the scholarship.

“It was the best experience of my entire life, honestly,” said Koricke, who went to Madrid, Spain to study Spanish in a program similar to Holley’s. “…This trip really made me realize how important it is for me to study abroad.”