Teachers and school administrators can give students an advantage in college applications by encouraging them to study abroad. Having an AFS school year, semester, summer or service program on their application will get attention. The experience demonstrates foreign language skills and a commitment to extracurricular activity, and, perhaps more importantly, it demonstrates independence and reliance. It show a readiness to succeed in a new setting and a ability to understand and communicate about international and intercultural issues.
Forty years later, Jenny Messner’s year studying abroad with AFS-USA still shapes her life in ways she never could have imagined. Fluent in Portuguese, with a successful career in international banking behind her, she now helps local teenagers, like she once was, have the same opportunity to have a life-changing AFS experience abroad.
Jenny and Mike Messner hosted their annual picnic for AFS-USA participants who received full scholarships from the Messners' Speedwell Foundation. In attendance were many of the 30 members of the current Speedwell Scholarship class, along with their families. In addition, more than a dozen alumni of the Speedwell program lent their support and words of advice to those about to start their journeys. Jenny and AFS-USA President Jorge Castro (both AFS Returnees) addressed the attendees, sharing their own study-abroad experiences and offering encouragement to the students about to start their study abroad experience and their families.