Culture / Travel

When Studying Abroad Changes Your Life — a Revolutionary Summer Program for High Schoolers Hits Houston

How to Win a Scholarship to See the World and Create Positive Change Back Home

BY // 11.13.18

Experiments are all about discovery, trying out new things, searching for an enlightening result. That couldn’t be truer of The Experiment in International Living, a revolutionary study abroad program for high schoolers.

Now, Houston students have the opportunity to apply for an exclusive scholarship with The Experiment. Cultural immersion meets educational enrichment in this unique experience. It’s like no other, with a foundation built on student-centered learning that’s experiential and rooted in reflection — all in a foreign country.

The highly respected program boasts more than 85 years of empowering students to develop valuable skills while engaging with communities in foreign countries and applying those lifelong lessons to their home communities.

Now, The Experiment, the flagship program of World Learning Inc., is running a scholarship Essay Contest in Houston. The scholarship-winning students can apply for 30 diverse, inspiring abroad programs in 26 different countries.

While each student experiments with world travel, there’s no question that The Experiment as an organization has yielded great results. Students from across the country attest to all that they’ve discovered — how to explore a new country firsthand, how to deepen their consciousness toward critical global issues, and more.

“I’ve never seen a student who went in and didn’t come back changed for the better,” World Learning senior marketing coordinator Hunter Horton, who voyaged to Morocco with The Experiment during her own high school years, tells PaperCity.

“I want students to feel empowered, not only by making a difference in the community, but be so much more confident in themselves. Just from my personal experience, I felt that way.”

The Houston Essay Contest

Now, Houston-area students have the chance to receive a new scholarship to broaden their horizons through international travel and immersion through the program with homestays in tightknit groups of 10 to 16 guided by professionally trained leaders.

Submissions for the scholarship, which provides a $2,000 scholarship toward an Experiment program, are due before Wednesday, January 9. Twenty lucky students will receive scholarships through the contest and be on track for a once in a lifetime trip and experience. The time spent developing leadership and teamwork skills in countries they’d never imagined they would see is invaluable to their future.

“The Experiment is proven to provide a valuable experience preparing students to see and understand the world through the lives of those who live in it, providing a rich personal experience and memories that last a lifetime. We look forward to expanding this opportunity to the Houston area,” says divisional vice president for The Experiment, Christina Thomas, divisional vice president for The Experiment.

To apply for the privilege to take part in the program, students must answer two essay prompts. The prompts revolve around the challenges we face in the rapidly changing world, coping with mass migration and the movement of people, environmental issues, technological advancements and growing global connectivity.

The Experience seeks thoughtful and well-written essays from a new generation of leaders determined to take action to find solutions to these challenges and communicate new ideas.

For Part I, students have the freedom to choose a global issue, whether immigration, racism, climate change or another of their own selection, and describe their plan to make a difference. In Part II, students must identify how they would benefit from the program, the challenges they’d face in the program and the ways they expect to grow.

The remaining portions of the application are due before Friday, January 30, and include the online application, list of top three program choices, applicant profile, short answers, letter of reference and host family letter.

The Experiment is committed to showing these young students what they’ve never seen before and inspiring seeing the students take the lessons they learn back home to improve their own communities.

“We’re looking for students who are really interested in social justice and taking what they learn on their experiment back to Houston and make Houston better. Not only give them an exceptional experience, but for them to bring it back home and encourage fellow students to do the same,” Horton says.

The Houston area is ripe with candidates for the program, which embraces access and inclusion. Through the contest, The Experiment is looking to reach students from throughout Houston’s incredibly diverse communities.

Opening a New World

The Experiment is built around a variety of destinations and themes. The carefully curated destinations are far-flung and inviting, encompassing many countries, from Vietnam, where students explore Ecology from Coast to Jungle; to Spain, where they take on Technology and Innovation in Urban Culture; to Tanzania for African Cultures and Landscapes; to South Korea’s program in Peace building and Modern Culture; to Community Service and the Great Outdoors in Argentina.

Students’ lives have been transformed by The Experiment in ways they never expected.

Isamar traveled to Mexico for Marine Biology from the Caribbean to the Baja Peninsula. His main takeaway?

“No one can say that this experience did not change their life for the better,” he says. “From the rainy excursions in Mexico City, to the cave snorkeling in Cozumel, this trip was filled with experiences I’ll remember for a lifetime! This trip cultivated a desire for more knowledge of cultures and has instilled a value for people and relationships.”

experiment in international living thailand
Students can visit 26 countries for authentic cultural experiences.

Theo spent time in Costa Rica studying Biodiversity, Ecology and Sustainability. “I came onto the program expecting to learn an immense amount about Costa Rica and about the Spanish language and left the program happy I had gained so much more,” he says.

“For two weeks on program, there was a homestay portion with a Costa Rican family. While the concept of living with another family feels intimidating initially, I found the homestay to be the most rewarding part of the journey. My family taught me so much more than anything I could have learned without genuine immersion.”

Students benefit from a new way of learning, seeing and thinking about the world. The Experiment encourages confidence, while acknowledging that some students might be nervous about the prospect of traveling so far from home and encountering something entirely new.

Even though students are traveling abroad, they are never alone. The comprehensive structure of the program protects the mental and physical wellbeing of the students before, during and after the program. Highly vetted, expertly trained support staff is there to help 24/7.

“We often hear students saying ‘I was so nervous to leave my home, try new things, and live with a local family, but when they return, students almost always report that these were the most impactful parts of the trip,” Horton says.

It is the type of experience that sticks with the participating students for their whole lives.

For more information on the Houston Essay Contest and to start the path to entering, click here.

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