Most student travel programs miss out on the powerful reasons that youth desire to be bilingual. The massive student travel programs like CIEE or EF spend most of their marketing dollars highlighting Americans having fun with other Americans. Unfortunately for many young people, travel is just entertainment, it lacks any real, peer-to-peer local engagement. Leaving home should be about self-discovery. The adventure of adopting another language, culture and community is transformative because it requires a new level of awareness and trust (outside our own personal circle). Young adults want and need more confidence and greater life experiences that anchor them to a deeper, and more honest understanding of the world and their place in it. Your 16 year old today, is just two years from facing the world on their own, moving to unfamiliar places and engaging with a mix of unknown people. Are they prepared? Here are five powerful reasons that immersion and being bilingual prepares young adults for real world engagement.
1. Divergent / Creative thinking: Living in a new community is a new adventure! Things are spontaneous, at times playful, free and easy exploration, and with new people and places - emerge new ideas and opportunities. A true immersion, is truly "thinking outside the box". Language creates a new way of connecting which inspires a greater focus on others and less on ourselves. This willingness to explore outside of our known circle deepens our value for intimacy and with it a renewed energy and purpose.
2. Personal Agency: Take action on your own behalf, making decisions and engaging a new culture builds assertiveness and self-confidence. During our community immersion you will be living and interacting just as local teens do. You will have choices to act, volunteer, jump-in, spend free-time, learn to shop, ask directions, introduce yourself, organize activites, and enjoy socializing. True immersion, motivates young people to act and be involved. Taking part in community - is wellness at its core.
3. Social Flexibility: Bilingual young people are socialably diverse, they understand and have empathy for others. This makes them very comfortable in any cultural environment. They see the experience of new people, beliefs and outlooks as both rewarding and enriching, never threatening. As social maturity grows, young people discover a greater joy in exploring relationships based on integrity and greater community connections.
4. Shared Resilience: It's not just the new language and culture that challenges visiting students, but also that first feeling of being alone without having mom or dad to make life easier. The world can be tough some days and as we gain life experience we begin to solve our own problems and with it, create coping strategies. The beauty of resilience is that it can be shared. Sharing with others our doubts and discomforts can bring relief, sometimes with laughter, other times it might take a walk around the block or simple conversation. Gaining experience on our own is not about being independent it's about creating empathy for ourselves and others. With more resilience we begin to choose the things that matter most, and ignore what doesn't.
5. Social Network: Our North/South America is divided primarily by language not so much culture. Your opportunities and friendships triple when you join the dual language community. Being fluent is not a talent or a special gift, it is simply an open invitation to reach out and connect. Fluency is 90% attitude not language study. Spanish is a beautiful language with roots in many other languages and cultures from Celtic to Italian. Language is powerful, it changes everything - come join us!
Immersion- embodies personal growth, of course it's entirely individual there is no one environment that fits all. This one fact is constant, they will see themselves differently! They will come to realize leaving home offers many new ways to engage and grow in this world. Come grow with us! Gracias, Ilba Prego