In the spring of 2021, now-senior Jadzia Jean received a scholarship to The National Security Language Initiative for the Youth. The NSLI-Y program allows for selected high school students to receive a scholarship and become citizen ambassadors abroad. Bay View’s Jadzia Jean ‘22 was fortunate enough to receive this appreciable opportunity. When asked what she had learned prior to receiving this scholarship, Jadzia stated, “I had been studying Korean independently for about four years, starting in seventh grade. Before coming to South Korea, I had already learned how to read and write using the Korean alphabet, as well as speak and understand most natural speech to a certain degree.” This program was discovered by Jean during quarantine via social media and she decided to apply, receiving the scholarship in April of 2021. There were many stages of becoming a recipient of the scholarship, and Jean even provided some advice to future NSLI-Y applicants: “To anyone else looking to apply to NSLI-Y: make sure to show that you are passionate, open-minded, and genuine, and you will have great chances of being accepted into the program and enjoying your time abroad.”
This opportunity was not a feat that went without work. When recalling events of the trip, Jean said as recalled, “Our daily schedule during the program consisted of four hours of Korean classes and time spent with our host families, and depending on the day it could also include free time to interact with local culture, cultural activities, supporter-led activities, and then cultural excursions on the weekends.” While this may seem like a lot to some, this was perfect for the people who had been chosen to immerse themselves in this wonderful program. Jean and her fellow attendees visited many different cities in South Korea, beginning in Paju and eventually moving to the city of Seoul. In her trips and excursions in these cities, Jean was able to experience much of South Korean culture and opportunities. Jean also lived with a host family during this time. When recalling these immersive experiences, she stated, “With our host families we got to learn many things about Korean daily life just by coexisting in the same house, and since my roommate and I were placed in a family with siblings around our age, it was amazing getting to converse in Korean with our host sister the same way we speak at home with our friends, learning and following along with hilarious trends with our younger host brother, and receiving homework help and exploring the city with our older host sister.” At the closing of this wonderful experience, Jean “participated in the closing ceremony, where we displayed the routines we had been learning in our cultural activities and we got to say our final goodbyes to our Korean supporters, and soon after to the staff and our host families as well. We spent our final night in a hostel, where we made our last convenience store run, bought all our favorite snacks, and stayed up way too late bonding over the experience we all just shared over those past two months. Then in the morning, we flew back to San Francisco, and from there to all of our separate hometowns.”
This opportunity allowed Jean to experience South Korean culture in a new and immersive way. This program was also a very educational period for Jean. When asked what she learned from her two months of the NSLI-Y program, Jean responded that “I believe I will always view NSLI-Y as a miracle since I was afforded the opportunity to fulfill my dreams of learning Korean in its native country and experiencing immersion for free, and I think everyone should be able to apply and experience a similar eye opening experience with another language and culture at some point in their life. It taught me new levels of independence as my first time traveling without my family, and as a completely new experience while surrounded with individuals I have never encountered before. I made some of my current best friends through NSLI-Y, and my continued close relationship with my host family and Korean supporters has taught me that intercultural and even long-distance connections approached with an open mind can be extremely meaningful and educational for both sides.” This experience is something that students which are interested should most definitely consider. If any student is particularly interested in this experience or the program itself, there are many resources online and within our student body, Jean being one of them, which would be most enthusiastic to answer any questions you may have. This experience is one that Jean and many others will never forget.