Eight Students Selected for SYA ’06-’07

Eight students from Phillips Academy were admitted to the School Year Abroad Program (SYA) for the academic year 2006-2007: Kevin Olusola ’06 and Chip Schroeder ’08 (traveling to Beijing, China), Haley Bruns ’08, Kate Measom ’08, and Justine Paradis ’08 (traveling to Rennes, France), Lily Bowers ’08 and Anne Tucker ’08 (traveling to Viterbo, Italy), and Kathryn Quijano ’08 (traveling to Zaragoza, Spain). Joining the SYA will mean some significant changes to their lives. A student visiting any of the four participating countries will stay with a host family, attend classes at a local school, and embark on varying length field trips in the region to soak up the local culture and learn things through exposure and first-hand experience. According to SYA Coordinator at PA, Catherine Carter, “Classes are technically suspended during these trips, but the learning continues.” However, all elements of the traditional Andover education are not sacrificed. All SYA students participate in a rigorous academic program overseas, comparable to that of Phillips Academy. Ms. Carter said that the schoolwork is still difficult, but less homework is usually given; this allows the students to explore and mingle in their new homes and communities. Outside of the classroom, there are plenty of ways for students to keep busy. On the weekends, they can spend time with their friends from school. During the week, students usually participate in clubs and sports, either organized by their local schools or independently run in the nearby area. The SYA program encourages students to become involved with activities separate from school, to help them make the most of their experience in a foreign country and to augment confidence and independence when speaking a foreign language. Some of the most appealing ways to get involved outside of school, for many students, are the opportunities for independent travel. In Europe, students are allowed to take trips with friends on weekends or during school breaks. However, detailed trip plans and several written permissions are necessary. Application and admission into the SYA program is a very thorough process. It consists of an information form, two essays, an interview with Ms. Carter, a letter to the prospective host family, and recommendations from English, Math, and Language teachers, House Counselor, and Advisor. The applications are then sent to the SYA program itself, which makes the final decision. Each year, about 10 students apply to SYA from Phillips Academy. The final decision to embark upon a yearlong journey in a foreign country is both daunting and exciting for many students looking at SYA. Haley Bruns ’08 said, “Making the decision for whether or not to go to SYA was really hard. We had to decide if we wanted to leave everything we know and love at Andover to go to somewhere on the other side of the world for a whole year. It’s one of those things, though, where if we decide not to go, we’ll spend the rest of our lives saying ‘What if?’” Chip Schroeder ’08 said, “I had a really hard time deciding if I could miss my Upper year here. With sports, classes, and the social life to miss, I knew I wouldn’t leave Andover for a year unless the place I was going was going to be really incredible. But…the experience of living in a Chinese family is one that will really get you a view of the culture, and an understanding for the language that you can’t get by just going on vacation.” Schroeder was awarded one of two Merit scholarships for his trip to China. Anne Tucker ’08 said, “I am looking forward to meeting new people and learning to speak Italian. I have never been out of the country before, so going to Europe will be a new experience for me.” Ms. Carter said, “My job is to recruit and guide students through the application process. I also keep an eye on how things are going after they have enrolled.” She is also responsible for interviews with prospective SYA students from PA. Ms. Carter commented that “The students who have gone to SYA say it changed their lives. It’s an incredible opportunity to receive the kind of instruction you would get at PA while learning to live and work and play in a whole new place. The confidence SYA kids bring back with them is remarkable.”