Talk about a senior trip; one West Springfield student will be spending her senior year in Germany.
Junior Sarah Bloom has been a German language student at West Springfield High School for three years and has dreamed of studying in Germany since the seventh grade. Now, thanks to the Council on International Education Exchange, she’s won a scholarship to do just that, staring in July.
“I’ve wanted to do this for so long,” Sarah said. “I’m kind of nervous about going over there. I don’t know who my host family will be and I don’t really speak German, but I’m really excited to go.”
Sarah will have to miss her senior year at West Springfield and all that comes with it: prom, senior trip, homecoming and her formal graduation. She’ll have to finish her English 12 requirement when she returns in June or July 2007, the only credits she needs to graduate.
Her parents, Peter and Martha Bloom, were initially hesitant about letting Sarah apply to the program, but after a dinner at KFC, her father relented.
“I took my dad out to dinner at KFC because he really likes it, even though I don’t,” she said. “I wanted him to be in a good mood, and when I told him I applied, he said I could go.”
Sarah's mother, Martha Bloom, said she and her husband are a little apprehensive about their daughter's trip but are more supportive and excited for her adventure.
"Sarah's a high achiever, we feel like she deserves this. We're very proud of her," Bloom said.
Although she'll be missing some of the final rites of passage out of high school, Bloom said Sarah will most likely have the same opportunities in Germany.
"It'll be hard with her being gone, but I'm looking forward to her doing this in the care of a host family," Bloom said. "She won't be with our family, but she'll be with a family. It's better for her do this this way than on her own."
Emily Massey, Sarah’s German teacher for the past year and a half, describes Sarah as an eager student who “works too hard.”
“I feel very comfortable in sending her there as an ambassador for the U.S.,” Massey said. “She’s really looking forward to learning the language better and being immersed in the culture.”
Sarah’s guidance counselor Tammy Butler has confidence that the “self-starter” will do just fine overseas.
“Sarah came to me with the program and I supported her decision to apply,” Butler said. “I think she’s ready to go out and explore other countries.”
Butler said she and Massey have discussed the program and feel it’s a good way for Sarah to bridge the gap between high school and college.
“We’re talking with her about what to anticipate,” Butler said. “If this is the direction of what she wants to study, it’s a good opportunity to improve her German skills.”
More than 600 students nationally applied for the German exchange program with the Council on International Educational Exchange, said spokeswoman Cynthia Singer.
“We usually get three times as many applications as scholarships available,” she said of the program which has been sending students overseas on year-long trips since 1983.
During the first three weeks of the program, which does not require students to have any background in German language, students will participate in an intense program to discuss the culture and basic phrases needed to adapt to living overseas, Singer said.