HOM: Maeve Cameron

Gillian McClees

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Maeve CameronWhat made you interested in wanting to do a foreign exchange program?

“I’ve been interested in studying abroad ever since my brother studied abroad in college in Cairo, and then from Cairo, he went to Morocco due to the riots. And also I got an exchange student named Tonje this year, and she’s my best friend. And we got along really well, so I was like, “What the hay! Let’s do it.”

Originally I asked my parents, like we were just joking out with the idea, me and Tonje. That’d I go and live at her boarding school, and go to school in Norway. But really I had no interest in Norwegian.

I tried for one scholarship program, 3,000 people applied, only 12 got in. So they denied me and I was like, “shoot, dang, darnit.” And so then, my mom was like, “Hey Maeve this looks more for you, it’s called, Yes Abroad.” And this program is trying to strengthen the relationships between Muslim countries. It’s called the Kennedy Lugar Foundation. [It was] formed after the 9/11 attacks. It was due the next day, and I was rushing to get it done. I had three essays due and we were up all night, and I was like I’m not even going to get this, it’s the same as the other one, 3,000 applicants. Like mom be realistic. She was like, “I really think you should try for it.” So anyways, we stayed up, wrote all this for the application. And then Senor Gathje actually wrote my letter of recommendation, and he was so kind, he handed it in an hour before it was due, he’s just the sweetest man.  I’m going through Yes Abroad.

So the countries they focus on are Jordan, Indonesia, Bulgaria, India, Morocco, and Turkey. The kinda general Midwestish, Mideastish. So that’s where most of these applicants are going. So I got an email saying congratulations you were picked to be a finalist for India. And I was like, heck yeah! And I was white in face, I couldn’t speak. It was super exciting. I’m leaving June 23rd and coming back early May,”

Was India your first choice?

“Yeah, they have you rank your countries you would most like to go to. And like I was saying, I was going through a rush with this application, and I just knew India was my first choice. And then all the rest I literally clicked random numbers, whatever. Many girls want to go to more of the Korean countries, I read. I went for India thinking I’ll be a higher choice.

And again these programs, Kennedy Lugar and Yes Abroad are based on leadership, and more based on cultural. And coming and being a peace ambassador. And being a positive figure for the United States. And I’ll come back and hopefully utilize those skills that I got,”

So what does being a Peace Ambassador really mean?

“So obviously sometimes Americans aren’t viewed in the most positive manner. And especially there’s just a miscommunication between, I think it’s easy for was to generalize the Muslim population. To actually get to a deeper understanding of that. And where they come from, and how we can work out these stupid little differences,”

So you’ll be going to high school, do you go to events?

“Yeah, so I’ll be going to an English speaking high school. It’ll be difficult, because not everybody gets an education, and not everybody gets that this isn’t going to be a pretty high school. So we’re just going to have to see how school goes. Hoping I’m going to pass, maybe get some D’s. Maybe, I don’t know. We don’t really know the school situation, other then it will be in English,”

Will this be the first time you are going to India?

“Yeah I’ve never been. I’ve been over seas to England but that’s it,”

What are you most excited about? Or see and experience?

“Rumor has it the food is delicious. So I’m into that. Also just learning, pretty blue jean American, like I’m pretty damn American, and just to see. I’m also really excited for the difficult parts, I’m just going to be thrown into this country. I know very little Hindi, very little. And just to be like super lost, and then maybe find my way, I think that’ll be cool,”

Are you trying to learn Hindi right now?

“I’m trying, it’s something. I listened to the alphabet on YouTube and they’ll read the letters, and they’ll read off 8 different letters but they all sound like the letter T. So I’m trying to learn that. Kids at this school have just been super generous with that, especially the Kohli’s. They are a very big part of me being interested in India in the first place. [The way that] they share their culture and present themselves is very  amazing. Any student that has family in India, or is from India, was so excited when they heard. They were coming up to me, even though I don’t know them that well, and saying “congrats”, and “come over whenever’,”

Are people giving you tips or advice?

” Rhea Kohli has been going through a bit of Hindi with me, but it’s rough,”

What do you think you’ll miss most? Or what do you think you’ll think about over there?

“I’ve never really been a “need my mommy, need my daddy”. I think it’s just been easier since all of my siblings kinda left, and I just always grew up with that idea that growing up people are going to go off and do bigger, better things. Family will be difficult, friends will be difficult too. I think the thing I’m going to miss most is just stupid little things high schoolers do. Just things that I can do cause I know the language, I know how things work. Just simple things like homecoming week, or even going out to Applebee’s with friends, little things like that, will be completely different. The little norms that you do after school are going to be completely different,”

So do you think you’re going to have some sad goodbyes?

“Yeah, Tonje is going to be one of them definitely. Cause I’m not going to come home to her. And I’m going to miss her so much. We’ve already planned on seeing each other, but I know it’s not going to be the same,”

Do you think coming back Senior year you’ll be really excited?

“I have nothing to compare it to, expect previous applicants who’ve gone and loved their experience. I think I’ll have a better understanding of other cultures. And I think it’ll give be a better reason to, I think I’ll appreciate my education even more. Cause here I know what I’m supposed to do, I just don’t always do it,”

So you think it’ll be worth missing a year of high school?

“I think it will be very worth it. There’s nothing like hands on experience. And that’s exactly what this program is going to give me,”

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