Students Will Travel the World in 2012 Summer as Part of IU Organization

Rebecca Abaddi, staff writer

This summer, Indiana high school students will travel around the world as part of the Indiana University Honors Program in Foreign Languages (IUHPFL). HSHS sophomore Brenna Armstrong and junior Ashlynn Rotta are traveling to Mérida, Mexico to study Spanish. Junior Beth Lindemann and junior Christian Ricks are traveling to Brest in Brittany to study French. Students will travel for seven weeks in the months of June and July.

The IUHPFL is an academically focused study-abroad program for dedicated high school students who are in their third or higher year of a foreign language. Although sophomores are accepted, juniors are given first priority in this statewide program where high school students across Indiana apply for the chance to expand their minds and improve their foreign languages.

“We want a student who is motivated by their language, someone who is motivated to strive for independence and what we would call an ‘honors student’. We want someone who is willing to sacrifice their summer for this kind of opportunity,” said IUHPFL director Stephanie Goetz.

During the summer, Goetz stays in Bloomington where the IUHPFL office is located so she can easily be reached by all the parties involved in the program. IUHPFL has nine sites in four different countries, and all the IU-Bloomington graduate instructors and on site staff can reach her at all times. The students who are accepted into the program attend classes from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., participate in afternoon activities, and eventually go home to spend time with their host families. Not every site offers the same classes, but some of the most common classes are grammar, communication, culture, literature and everyday pop culture.

While students will be benefitting greatly from this one of a kind experience, there is the matter of cost. The entire cost of the trip is $4,500 plus airfare for students traveling to Europe. For students traveling to Mexico, the cost is $3,500 plus airfare. Students who cannot afford to pay the entire fee could apply for financial aid. However, cost is not even mentioned until all the steps are taken. The whole process of application begins in August and ends late in December, and includes a language test. Students are evaluated on a scoring system, interviewed and finally accepted.

“There are too many benefits to mention, the first being a significant increase in linguistic ability, the others being the students having a better sense of themselves, a better learning of other cultures, a better appreciation and respect for their home culture and a great deal of maturation. All of these are excellent steps towards college,” said Goetz.

Now, students are waiting to be matched with host families. The onsite coordinator matches the students with their host families and will notify students at the end of May. Host families do not necessarily need to know English, and they are actually forewarned not to speak English. French world language teacher Erica King took part in the program her junior year of high school as one of 64 students chosen to participate.

“I loved French, so I knew if I were studying abroad I knew that I would really excel in the language if I had that opportunity. And it was the most amazing trip of my life. I would suggest it to anyone who has the ability to go,” King said.

Lindemann has been accepted into the program and will be going to France as her host country. She is currently in her fifth year of French.

“The main reason I decided to go on the IUHPFL program this summer is because of the host family experience. Living with a host family for two months will greatly improvement my conversional French, decrease my American accent and give me another insight into the French culture. I am really excited,” Lindemann said.

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