I recently received an email letting me know that I've been chosen for an NSLI-Y scholarship to spend the summer in İstanbul, Turkey studying the Turkish language. NSLI-Y stands for "National Security Language Initiative for Youth" and is a program run by the US State Department that gives full scholarships to kids from the US to study languages for a summer, semester, or year in countries that speak Chinese, Arabic, Korean, Russian, Turkish, Hindi, and Persian.
I applied way back in December, not really knowing if I even wanted to go, since a return to Paraguay was still in my mind at that point. In January, I was notified that I was chosen as a semi-finalist and was interviewed in Oak Creek on one of the snowiest days of the winter. I had no news then, until April 20th, when I got my notification email.
I had ranked both Persian (Tajikistan) and Turkish (Turkey) as my number 1 choices on my application, with Arabic (Egypt, Morocco, Jordan) and Hindi (India) as my number 2 choices, and Russian (Russia) as my number 3. I chose not to rank Chinese (China) because I recently spent 3 weeks in the PRC and wanted a chance to go somewhere totally new. Korean didn't make the list because A)I've already studied and subsequently lost interest in the language, and B)I HATE even just the smell of basically all types of seafood, which could potentially make living with a Korean family pretty difficult (or hungry, at least).
I'll be living with a family in İstanbul for the summer, and attending Turkish classes at TÖMER. My placement/program will be handled by an organization called ACES. There are 30ish other American kids who will be in Turkey, some with ACES in İstanbul, some with AFS in who-knows-where, possibly Ankara.
Some of you may know that I have already done an exchange program. In 2009, I spent an AFS semester living in Pilar, Paraguay. One of my AFS friends from Pilar is actually currently living in İstanbul. :) If you're interested, that blog can be found at usatoparaguay.blogspot.com.
Hopefully I'll be receiving some more information soon about my host family, schedule, etc. When I do, I'll be sure to keep this up-to-date.