So today I finally got around to writing a thank-you letter to AFS for the Viaggio Italiano scholarship. It took me a while because I really wanted it to express how grateful I am. I had a tough time writing it, so I'm going to post it on here for any AFSer's who need an example to help!(:
Dear Scholarship Sponsor,
Hi, I’m Jacqueline Knirnschild. I’m fifteen years old at Brunswick High School in Ohio. As one of the winners of the Viaggio Italiano Scholarship, I just want to let you know how grateful I am. This scholarship has made a huge difference in my fundraising. Without this scholarship, I would’ve had a difficult time finding enough funds to go.
I love traveling and spending a year in Italy as an exchange student is going to be such an amazing, wonderful experience. I am so excited to learn a new language, immerse myself in a new country and make life long friendships with other AFSers, my host family and Italians. One of my goals of going abroad is to become completely fluent in Italian. I’m going to do my very best to represent the United States positively. I am making a scrapbook to share my life with my new Italian friends and family. I’m excited to discover new things about Italian culture. Hopefully, not only will I learn from my host family but they will also learn from me too. In return for this scholarship, I am writing a blog so that everyone can read about my experiences in Italy. I will already highly recommend AFS to anyone I know who’s interested in traveling abroad. Actually, one of my friends from preschool saw that I was going to Italy and it inspired her to go to Spain with AFS next year, she was just accepted last week. I also can’t wait to bring back the Italian culture to all my friends and family here in the United States. As the world makes advances in technology, people tend to get closer and interact with people from other countries. It’s so simple to send a Facebook message to someone living on the other side of the world. It can only be beneficial for people to understand other countries and cultures as the boundaries of countries intermingle and we become a global economy and world. In the future, I will be able to bring back the Italian cultural differences and similarities to help my country be more open minded about the world around them.
There are varying opinions amongst my family and friends about my decision to become an AFSer. Most of my friends are surprised and dumbstruck as to why I would want to be an exchange student. One of my first challenges involved with becoming an AFSer was convincing my parents that I was serious about it. Before I even approached my parents with the idea, I did a lot of research on AFS and thought about clear logical reasons on why I should go. After I told my parents, I signed us up for an online web conference call to learn about the program. Then we sent some e-mail’s with specific questions to AFS volunteers to further help my parents understand why I want to go. After this, my parents are now fully supportive of my decision to be a foreign exchange student in Italy.
Another challenged I have to overcome to go to Italy is fundraising. This is why winning the scholarship is so important to me. I have already made a blog with a “Chip-In” button for donations. I also hosted a “March Madness NCAA College Basketball” 50/50 raffle. Basically, there are 64 basketball teams, each person donates $20 to get one team. The teams are chosen randomly and whoever’s team wins gets half of the money and the other half goes towards my Italy trip. This summer, I’m planning on hosting some Italian dinners where I will do a presentation on Italy and serve Italian food. I also am going to host some movie nights in my backyard with a projector with my friends. I’ve put in applications at all of the fast food restaurants in my area and am going to do as much babysitting as I can.
Thank you again. I can’t even express how thankful I am for this scholarship. It means so much to me and I can’t wait for my amazing experiences in Italy to begin!
Besides writing my thank you letter, I've been obsessing over getting my host family! Lot's of my friends here in the U.S like to tease me, "What if your host family is weird!?" "What if they're super strict!?" I just laugh and shrug it off because I know that AFS is going to do a great job on finding me a family! But sometimes the comments and jokes make me a little bit antsy, I just want my host family already!! On the "Ask an AFSer" Facebook group (Oh, how I love Facebook!) a volunteer said that Italy is very well known for giving out their host families two months before arriving, which would mean the very beginning of July! Ugh, I don't want to wait that long ): ! But I should be thankful because I've heard of people who didn't find out until 2 WEEKS before they left.. umm I would cry if I had to wait that long! It's weird to think that Italian families are looking over my file and deciding whether or not they want me as an exchange student! It kind of makes me nervous, what if no one wants me!? What if I never get a host family!? Ahhh I just need to relax! Anyway, the volunteer also said that there's too many host families in Italy and not enough exchange students, so I have pretty good odds of getting a family. Too bad for them, some poor Italian family is going to get stuck with me (;
I also saw some interesting stats on the AFS Facebook page!(:
- 400 student applications already sent over to AFS Italy
- 80 student applications that still need to be sent from overseas
- 54 students that have already been placed with host families
- 300 applications being reviewed by volunteers around Italy
Just getting to know all of these facts gets me SO excited!!(: 480 students going to Italy from all around the world!? That's a lot more than I expected, it's awesome! I'm constantly checking the two Facebook groups for any new host family gossip and information. I can't even begin tell you how much I wish I was one of the 54 who already know their families ): ! I'm going to cross my fingers that I'm one of the 300 being reviewed and I find out super duper soon!