Jenny Messner shares about starting the Speedwell AFS Scholarships in the face of 9-11 and how valuable the experience has proven for students.
I think that one of the most important reasons that I thought that we should do this program was that after 9-11, and having been close to New York for that whole disaster, I just had the feeling that Americans were circling the covered wagons and we didn't want to go abroad anymore. I felt that in the young people in the area in Pennsylvania. It was a very, very fearful time. And I know that to be the case because when we sent our daughter of an AFS year abroad, I was a nervous wreck.
I think the more we realize that we still have a world to enjoy, and more we encourage students to get out there, the faster we will get over this feeling that there is only conflict out there.
I have yet to hear a parent who is sorry that their child went. They are nervous when I first meet them. They are as bright eyed as their student when I get to meet them after their year abroad. First of all, they are delighted to have their child back, but second of all, I think they truly see how monumental the experience was for their child.
I think I have a bit of a beef with teachers and schools. We've gotten very, very tied up in getting kids on track for college by making sure they take AP courses, making sure they don't miss things for their “resume,” so to speak. When something like an experience like this is immeasurable on that resume. As more and more kids come back and go back into the schools and the educators see what a difference it makes, I think that will go away.
These kids are evidence that there are many, many, many parts of this world that one has to come and keep coming and they want to come here, so, it's good stuff!