AFS-USA , a partner of The National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) is happy to announce it is now accepting applications for Project: Change 2015. Project: Change gives young people the chance to follow their own vision and develop a volunteer project in 1 of 10 countries. In keeping with AFS-USA's mission to bring about peace and understanding through cultural exchange, Project: Change offers winners a full scholarship to go abroad and carry out a service project of their own design.
Katie Eder and Sam Harshbarger are just like you—they want to make a positive impact on the world. Through AFS’s Project: Change 2014 they’ve been able to do just that. Last year’s winners, Katie and Sam, went to Colombia and Russia to put their world-changing ideas into action.
Katie Eder teaches creative writing in Colombia
Katie developed a volunteer project called Kids Tales, a writing workshop for children. Her idea was selected for the 2014 Vision in Action award because of her project’s unique alignment to the AFS mission of creating a more just and peaceful world through intercultural learning experiences.
By encouraging creativity and boosting students’ reading and writing skills, Katie’s goal is to give every kid the gift of storytelling. She began Kids Talesin Milwaukee, then continued her volunteer work in Chicago and Washington DC. With AFS’s help, she brought her project to Colombia.
Katie and 11 other students traveled to Villavicencio, Colombia and taught creative writing workshops at the Puente Amarillo School. By living with local host families, they were also able to experience Colombian culture first-hand. At the end of the program, Kids Talespublished a book of short stories written by Katie’s students called The Land of Enthusiasm.
Sam Harshbarger documents the Udmurt culture
When he entered the contest, Sam was an 8th grade student at the Cranbury School in New Jersey. His idea was to study underrepresented people in Russia in order to preserve and share their culture with the world.
As the Grand Prize winner of the 2014 contest, Sam travelled to Russia with 4 other Project: Change finalists. His Social Studies teacher, whom he identified as an inspiration, was also given the opportunity to join them.
Sam and his fellow participants spent 2 weeks in Central Russia. They visited 10 different communities and learned about Udmurt history, food, language, music, and crafts from the experts themselves. Sam’s group also experienced full immersion in local life by living with host families.
Sam and his friends conducted first-person interviews and took part in the daily routine of their host communities in order to understand Udmurt culture. They documented their findings on a website dedicated to sharing and preserving Udmurt traditions, which they created and published themselves.
Now it’s your turn!
As Katie and Sam have shown, young people with big ideas can change the world. These two students embody AFS’s mission to encourage cooperation and understanding through intercultural exchange.
If you want to make the world a better place, all you need to get started is an idea. If your project is selected, you will receive a full scholarship to spend two weeks abroad with AFS making your vision come to life. All U.S. 8th to 12th grade students are eligible to enter, and it just takes three easy steps.
Step 1: Learn about the countries and issue areas; choose from 10 countries where you could address any of the 5 key issue areas.
Step 2: Develop an idea based on our resources and your own creative genius. Then submit your idea in the form of a 200-500 word essay OR a 1-minute video.
Step 3: Your vision, in action; travel to your country of choice and put your vision in action along with fellow participants.
The deadline is December 1, 2015. For more information on how to apply visit the AFS Project: Change website
It’s up to you to lead the way to a future powered by peace and justice. Submit your plan to AFS Project: Change for the chance to win a full scholarship and see your idea become a reality.
AFS-USA, a global nonprofit organization, is a leading international education advocate and thought leader. For over 65 years, it has worked to enhance the global competency of US citizens. It currently sends approximately 1,000 US students abroad each year, partners with over 1,400 US high schools to advance global learning, and hosts nearly 2,300 international high school students who spend a year studying in US high schools and living with US host families. AFS-USA provides more than $3 million in scholarships and financial aid to US students each year, and maintains a network of close to 5,000 US volunteers who are instrumental in carrying out this work.