Students explore new perspectives while spending first semester abroad

For most seniors, their last year of high school consists of Friday night football games, homecoming dance and applying to colleges. But for seniors Katie Freeman and Arielle Bloom, theirs began with a passport and a plane ticket.

Freeman spent her first semester in Brazil, Uganda and Rwanda. In Brazil, she stayed with a host family and worked with a woman who did social work in the community. In Rwanda, she worked with Africa New Life where she taught English in two schools. In Uganda, she stayed with family friends who live in a small village outside of Kampala. She also taught some English and helped put in a sand volleyball court.

“I’m considering studying Nonprofit Management in college and I wanted to see what it is like to work for a nonprofit from day to day logistics to the bigger picture aspects. I fell in love with English junior year and writing became a therapy for me. Ms. Wray was a huge factor in why I loved that class so much and I wanted to create that same feeling for other people. She helped me plan some of the curriculum! So teaching English and sharing something that I loved really drove a lot of the trip,” Freeman explained.

“I think I learned how to be more creative and think on my toes,” she elaborated. “You literally never know what to expect and although that makes things difficult it also is what made it an adventure. I also am more confident in who I am as a human.”

Bloom participated in a program called Alexander Muss High School in Israel, which is an accredited school in Israel. She took general classes that would be offered at LOHS, but her main focus was an Israeli History class. Within that class, she studied Israel’s history chronologically while touring around the country. She toured ancient archeological sites, went to Poland during a study of the Holocaust, heard from members of the Druze religion, local Arabs and Bedouins (a nomadic Arabic group) and visited the borders of Israel’s neighboring countries and Gaza.

“In Israel, I loved the weather, Middle-Eastern food and making lifelong friends. It was a very special experience to live, travel, and learn with 35 other Americans in a foreign country. My favorite trip was probably our last few days where we went to the most southern part of Israel known as Eilat. In Eilat, we snorkeled and hiked to a point where I could see Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia,” she explained.

“Being able to push myself out of the bubble and completely out of my comfort zone taught me a whole lot and arguably more than a semester in school would,” Freeman described. “Plus meeting that many new people swings a new perspective into view.  It was an extremely valuable and eye-opening experience overall!”