This weekend (09/09/17), I had the opportunity to conduct outreach for the NSLI-Y program at The University of Chicago. We needed one more alum other than me to come, so I went to the Great Lakes – Chicago NSLI-Y Alumni Facebook page and asked around for any volunteers. (Author’s note: Attention all NSLI-Y Alumni! Make sure to join your region’s (if applicable) Facebook page! Us alumni representatives will often post about opportunities there!) Michaela, an awesome China Summer 2015 alumna, joined me for the event.
For this event, Michaela and I were at a “college fair” for NSHSS (National Society of High School Scholars) members. We were at the U.S. Department of State’s table and our job was to talk about the fully funded cultural exchanges, hosting opportunities, and our experience with NSLI-Y. The rest of the tables were for universities (mostly in IL/the Midwest region), but there was also a table for the CIA. It was just us and the DIR (Diplomat in Residence) for the Midwest: Melissa Martinez.
I arrived at the right hall at UChicago about an hour early, so I walked around campus for awhile. The campus is so pretty! I could not resist taking photos of all the old buildings. Its architecture is my aesthetic.
After my own little “tour” of the campus, I went to the room for the college fair and besides the UChicago reps that were present, I was still the first one there.
Eventually, Melissa showed up, and we began to set up the table with a U.S. Department of State tablecloth, tons of brochures, pens, and post it notes. Looking around at all the other tables for the colleges, I realized that table setting is truly an art.
After setting up, Melissa left to go present to the NSHSS members. While she was gone, I met Michaela for the first time. For about an hour, we talked about a variety of things: our NSLI-Y experiences, other alumni opportunities we have done, learning languages, China Town, Gentrification, College, etc.
The fair lasted around 2 hours, and I talked more than I normally would at a speech competition! That is saying a lot!
During the two hours, Michaela and I spoke with students that were interested in studying abroad. We also talked to parents about how they can host international students (selling point: once they go off to college, there will be an extra room in the house XD)
It was honestly very heartwarming to meet so many students that had an interest not only in cultures and languages, but also careers in foreign policy/with the U.S. Department of State. I hope a good amount of students we talked to will apply this application season.
A funny part of the fair was the fact that many parents thought I was working for the Department of State. They would ask me what I did, and I would then tell them that I was currently only a senior in high school, but that hopefully, I would be there in the future XD Honestly, I do not look old at all. In fact, I think I look younger than most people my age. It must have been my blazer. It must have made me look professional!
And that was my take on the outreach event I did this September! It was quite a lot of fun, and I am glad I received the opportunity to do so. The NSLI-Y Alumni Association is such an amazing network of people and I am so thankful to be a part of it!
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