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    Posted March 14, 2014 by
    Kumasi, Ghana
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Why study abroad? Ask Michelle Obama

    A Hop, a Skip and a Jump


    The differences you encounter are what's so beautiful about another culture. The sights. The smells.


    My name is Allie Campbell and I am currently finishing my year abroad in Ghana, West Africa through the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Abroad scholarship. The Kennedy-Lugar YES Abroad program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is offering American high school students and recent graduates in the U.S. full scholarships for up to one academic year in countries with significant Muslim populations. The YES Abroad program was initiated as a reciprocal extension of the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study program for international students from countries with significant Muslim populations. The first group of Americans participated in YES Abroad in the 2009-2010 academic year, living and studying in ten select YES countries. The program now offers 65 full scholarships to American students nationwide. YES Abroad students serve as “youth ambassadors” of the United States, promoting mutual understanding by forming lasting relationships with their host families and communities. Participants live with a host family, attend a local high school, acquire leadership skills, and engage in activities to learn about the host country’s society and values while helping to educate others about American society and values.


    Stepping off of the plane just 7 months ago, I was bombarded with heat, smells that were a mixture of delicious foods being sold on the street and garbage that neighbored it and noticing that I was the one of the only white people around. It was a bit overwhelming, coming from a small town in Southern Kentucky I started to question what I had gotten myself into. Leaving the airport our bus broke down and we had to "push-start" it before we could head onto our destination, I like to think of this often as a push-start to the many triumphs and tribulations that I would be facing over the next year abroad.


    Ghana is a country filled with vibrant color, loud music and the most humble people I have ever met. I've gained friendships, I've gained a second family, I've gained a new outlook on life and I wouldn't trade this past year for anything.


    Studying abroad in Ghana has helped increase the harmony and love between myself, my peers and even my family back home irrespective of our color, religion or culture.


    My most memorable moments here in Ghana have been the simple things like sitting down in the evening with my family to watch a show on TV, making macaroni and cheese and laughing as my family tried it for the first time and ended up not liking it, taking evening walks around my village and the small children walking alongside me, singing duets with my classmates... the list goes on. Ghana has taught me to live simple and appreciate it. Never take anything for granted. So to you, I would like to say, study abroad not because it looks good to potential universities or jobs - though that's always a perk - but study abroad for the experience, for the memories you will have, for trying new foods, for having a dream in the language you will be studying for the first time, for the laughs shared between you and your family, for self-discovery, for adventure and for the simple things that you'll carry with you for a lifetime.


    Studying abroad has changed my life and has defined who I am as a person, it can you too.


    Study abroad is just a hop, a skip and a jump away.

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