Hal Z. Zhao, NSHSS Ambassador Scholar/Student Council Member, Georgia Institute of Technology
Greetings everyone! As this school year winds down, I want to wish everyone confidence, strength, and clarity of thought to perform well on finals and end this year on a strong note. For graduating high school seniors, congratulations to you as you look ahead to college and to meeting new challenges, new experiences, and new people along the way.
Speaking of new and exciting opportunities, I would like to take the moment to share with you guys a very unique experience I had last year around this time when summer was rolling by. It was coming to the end of my 1st year at Georgia Tech, and I had yet to finalize my summer plans. It was looking more and more like that I was going to end up just taking summer classes until one of my parent’s colleagues introduced me to a wonderful opportunity. It was the 2011 International Youth Festival (IYF) taking place in Beijing, China, during the month of July.
Last year, this event was originally created to meet the UN International Year of the Youth initiative and was hosted by the Education Association of China Tomorrow (EACT). It was composed of the 2011 Global Development Youth Summit in addition to a 3-week volunteering initiative where American students visited many Chinese cities and participated in cultural exchanges along with Chinese students and faculty. It still fascinates me today as to how much I learned by going on this trip, the caliber of people I met, and also all the fun experiences I got to enjoy with fellow American students being abroad in China.
Due to the large-scale success of last year’s event, the EACT wants to brand the IYF as its flagship event for many summers in years to come. This year’s theme at the 2012 Global Development Youth Summit is to “Think Global, Act Local,” and will take place in Xi’an, China. I strongly encourage any high school student (over age 16, being a requirement of the program) to consider taking part of this event over this summer. The length of the program is slightly over a month, lasting primarily between the beginning of July to the beginning of August. For high school students, this event will be eye-opening, guaranteed to transform you into a more experienced person and will serve as a great addition for your resume. If you are also a graduating senior, this would be an amazing graduation trip to add to your summer plans. Many college and graduate students also attend the IYF, creating a great networking atmosphere as an added bonus.
In addition, if you apply to the program and become accepted as a grantee, nearly all of your domestic costs to stay in China for the entire program duration will be covered by EACT. Thus, grantees spots are limited and are competitive, and the additional responsibilities of a grantee may include presenting a workshop at the summit and also serving a leadership role when participating in the following 3-week volunteering initiative.
I will recommend participating in the 2012 IYF to every eligible student out there who becomes motivated by global issues, has dedicated passions, and live to learn and lead wherever they go. I can almost promise that you will have an unforgettable experience by becoming part of the event this year. Please visit EACT’s website at or full details and eligibility of the program. You can also read my full reflection essay titled “Most Spirited Adventure in the Land of the East” in the student council section of the NSHSS website to get a full grasp of my experiences when I went abroad last July.
Good luck with exams, projects, and making the final home stretch at the close of this semester, and I look forward to hearing your wonderful experiences for this summer.