3 START-Stipendiat_innen erhielten Austauschstipendium von der US Embassy

Dank der finanziellen und organisatorischen Unterstützung der US Botschaft in Wien, hatten 3 START-Stipendiat_innen aus Niederösterreich und Vorarlberg diesen Sommer die einmalige Gelegenheit einen Aufenthalt in den USA erleben zu dürfen. Vielen Dank für diese großartige Unterstützung.

Wenn Sie wissen wollen wie es den 3 Stipis ergangen ist: hier sind ihre Berichte:

Sinem | Samet| Lisney |

Bericht von Lisney:

Mein Sommer mit BFTF

Juli 2017 war ein erstaunlicher Monat und entscheidend für jeden Aspekt meines Lebens. Ich hatte die große Gelegenheit, zusammen mit 44 europäischen und 10 amerikanischen Studenten am Benjamin Franklin Translatic Fellows Summer Institute (BFTF) an der Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North-Carolina teilzunehmen.

Benjamin Franklin Translantic Fellowship Programm, kurz gesagt auch BFTF, wurde vom U.S Department of State, also das amerikanische Außenministerium initiiert und gehört neben den U.S Botschaften zu den Main-Sponsoren des Programms.

1st week

Genau am 24. Juni 2017 flog ich vom Flughafen Wien direkt nach Newark, New Jersey.
Dort traf ich unseren Chaperone und weitere Fellows von anderen europäischen Ländern. Von dort flogen wir gemeinsam weiter nach Greensboro, wo unsere Gastfamilien auf uns warteten und uns herzlich in den Vereinigten Staaten willkommen geheißen haben.

Ich wurde schnell von den anderen Fellows aufgenommen – ich fühlte mich gleich wohl und mein Heimweh verschwand sofort. Der erste Tag bestand darin, dass wir uns alle näher kennen lernten und am Nachmittag gab es einen sogenannten „Scavenger Hunt“.

Am zweiten Tag hatten wir dann das erste Mal unsere Lectures an der Wake Forest University. In dieser Woche hatte ich verschiedene Classes über Debate, Citizenship und sogar über Sustainability, was für mich sehr aufregend war.

2nd week

Langsam ging auch die erste Woche vorbei und wir alle bereiten uns auf das Trip nach Philadelphia und Washington DC vor. Es war eine über 8-stündige Busfahrt nach Philadelphia, was natürlich halb so schlimm war, da es genügend Pausen eingelegt wurden und jeder von uns mit allem Möglichem gut versorgt wurden.

Am darauf folgenden Tag in Philadelphia besuchten wir das Benjamin Franklin Museum und das Benjamin Franklin Printing Press, da er ja die Inspiration für das Programm war. Danach gingen wir ins Independence Hall, wo wir dort ebenfalls eine Tour bekamen. Der restliche Tag bestand mit Freizeit.

Am Montag, den 3. Juli besuchten wir das National Constitution Center, wo wir mehr über die amerikanische Geschichte erfuhren. Danach ging es gleich nach Washington DC, wo wir alle im Thurston Hall der George Washington Universität stationiert waren.

Dienstag, der 4.Juli. Dieser Tag ist ein ganz besonderer Tag für alle Amerikaner – denn es ist das Unabhängigkeitstag der Vereinigten Staaten. Es war nicht nur ein besonderer Tag für die Bürger dort, sondern auch für uns. Der Tag fing damit an, dass wir das U.S Capitol besuchten. Dort wurden wir durch das Gebäude geführt, wo es unzählige Statuen von berühmten Persönlichkeiten gab, wie zum Beispiel von Martin Luther King oder Rosa Parks. Danach besuchten wir das Newseum, wo es hauptsächlich um journalistische Medien ging.
Definitiv einer der interessantesten Museen , die ich je besucht habe!

Am Abend gingen wir zum Washington Monument, wo wir uns die Feuerwerke anschauten. Für mich war das ein atemberaubendes Erlebnis!

Am nächsten Morgen hatten wir zwei Talks im Mayors Office. Bei einem ging es um eine Charity Organisation mit Flüchtlingen und am Nachmittag hatten wir die Möglichkeit, die Stadt ein bisschen zu erkunden.

Am Donnerstag mussten wir sehr früh aufwachen, da wir pünktlich um 7 Uhr im Außenministerium der Vereinigten Staaten (Department of State) sein müssten. Dort hatten gab es zuerst eine Rede und danach wurden wir in zwei Gruppen für die Stimulationen aufgeteilt. Uns wurden bestimmte Rollen zugeteilt und diese müssten wir bei der Diskussion über das Thema Flüchtlings- Krise vertreten. Das war sehr spannend und aufregend, da nicht alle die gleiche Meinung vertraten wie der Rolle, die ihnen zugeteilt wurde.
Am Nachmittag hatten wir die Möglichkeit, verschiedene Museen zu besuchen. Wir besuchten das Holocaust Museum, das Hirschhorn Museum und viele weitere.

3rd week

Und so endete auch die zweite Woche in Amerika und die darauf folgende Woche startete mit dem Home-stay in einer amerikanischen Gastfamilie. Dort wurde ich ebenfalls herzlich willkommen geheißen und wurde sofort in die amerikanische Familie aufgenommen.

Ab der dritten Woche verging jeder einzelne Tag wie im Flug. Für uns alle bedeutete es, dass der Abschied näher kommt – denn wir hatten nur weniger als 14 Tage übrig.

Diese Woche war sehr bedeutend für mich, da mir meine Gastfamilie echt ans Herz gewachsen ist. Ich verstand mich sehr gut mit ihnen, und ich wünschte, ich hätte die Möglichkeit gehabt, mit ihnen eine weitere Woche verbringen zu dürfen.

4th week

Die vierte Woche kam näher, wir müssten alle wieder zurück zum Universität Campus, da unser Aufenthalt mit der Gastfamilie leider schon zu Ende war.
Am Montag hatten wir einen Besuch bei Second Harvest, eine Firma die Essen an hungernde Menschen liefert. Es ist ebenfalls ein Mitglied von „Feeding Amerika“. Unsere Aufgabe bestand darin, zu schauen, ob die Lebensmittel den Kriterien entsprechen und diese danach in Schachteln einzupacken. Erst dort wurde mir klar, dass es auch in Amerika Menschen gibt, die nicht täglich ein warmes Essen bekamen.

Die weiteren Tagen hatten wir wieder Lectures, nur dieses Mal wurden diese von unseren Mentors geleitet. Wir hatten ebenfalls zwei Mal einen Workshop mit Authoring Action, wo wir unsere eigenen Poems verfasst und vorgelesen haben – was für mich persönlich sehr inspirierend war.

Nun war es der letzte Tag. Man spürte es, dass jeder einzelne von uns sehr traurig war – es war eine bedrückende Stimmung, und trotzdem versuchten wir, unsere Tränen zurück zu halten. Natürlich funktionierte es, doch am Abend dann, fingen wir alle zum Weinen an.
Vor einem Monat kannte sich keiner von uns – und jetzt sind wir alle zu einer großen internationale Familie gewachsen. Man kann das Gefühl nicht beschreiben, ich fühlte mich sehr glücklich, so viele Menschen von verschiedenen Ländern und Kulturen kennen gelernt zu haben  – doch sich dann nach so viel gemeinsam verbrachter Zeit zu trennen, das war für uns alle schwer. Jedoch bin ich überzeugt, dass viele von uns sich wieder sehen, dass unsere Lebenswege sich wieder einmal kreuzen werden.

„Abschied bedeutet nicht Trennung, sondern Pause auf Zeit“

Hiermit möchte ich mich herzlich bei der amerikanischen Botschaft, insbesondere bei Mag. Karin Schmid-Gerlich, sowie dem START-Stipendium für diese einmalige, lebensverändernde Erfahrung bedanken! Es war ein unbeschreibliches Erlebnis und ich bin dankbar, ein BFTF Alumni of 2017 zu sein! Vielen Dank!


Bericht von Samet:

A colorful journey

I’m looking at the pictures and smile- Each of them has its own story and all together they sum up the wonderful summer I had this year. A summer which is going to end soon but before that’s the case I want to jump into my memories and tell you the story of my summer.
Actually the summer holidays were very ordinary, except the fact my dream has become true and I had the opportunity to stay in the United States of America for whole 4 weeks with people from all around the world who had the same aim- exploring a world full of opportunities!

1st week:
My journey started on the 3rd of July with an 11 hour flight from Munich to Denver. Arrived in Denver, we were welcomed by the Education USA Staff and brought to our Halls at the University of Colorado Boulder, where we met the other participants. Even if I was a little bit afraid and nervous before coming to the US, by now at the latest, I realized that there is no reason to be afraid in one way or another but that it is going to be an adventurous month. The next couple of days we got to know the campus of the University and the streets of Boulder better and moreover made an Orientation Test to test our ability of speaking English and started our lessons such as Academic English Skills or TOEFL preparation. The highlight of the first week was visiting the fireworks at the American football stadium of the University on the 4th of July and celebrating the Independence Day.

2nd week:
With the beginning of the second week, our tours to different universities started. It was a great opportunity to see the differences between all the universities. Additionally, we had Entrepreneurship Classes with a real entrepreneur who supported us at creating our own invention, something which doesn’t exist but is very useful for the humanity.
At the weekend we watched a baseball game of the Colorado Rockies who played against the Chicago White Sox. I loved it because the atmosphere in the stadium was amazing, something I have never experienced before.

3rd week:
In the 3rd week I got that close with some of the participants that I thought I have been friends with them my whole life. We shared stories which you won’t share with everyone and spent a lot of time together hanging out at shopping centers, going to the cinema or generally exploring the beautifulness of the city Boulder. What was special about this week was that we went hiking to the Rocky Mountains with the whole group. We had an adventurous time and on the top, a beautiful view.

4th week:
Our last week was characterized by giving presentations and showing what we have done and gained from the last 4 weeks. Furthermore, we presented our inventions, we had done with the entrepreneur, in front of the Education USA Staff and our teachers. Unfortunately, the last week ended faster than we thought and at the moment we started packing our luggages, we realized that this wonderful journey is really going to end soon.

At the end it was very difficult to leave all the wonderful experiences and people behind. Nevertheless it was a valuable time at a wonderful place where I not only got to know the American culture, university life and people better but also made lifelong friends with incredible talents and special characteristics.

I would like to give my sincere thanks to the American embassy, in particular Ms. Karin Schmid-Gerlich and also to the “START-Stipendienprogramm” for giving me this unique, unforgettable and life changing opportunity.


Bericht von Sinem:

A report of the trip to the University of Colorado Boulder

With the invitation from the U.S. Department of State and the Embassy of the United States of America in Austria, I had the honor to represent Austria in the US alongside 19 other students from all over the world at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) in a four-week educational program named EdUSA Academy.

1st week
Only after the eleven-hour direct flight from Munich to Denver I realized that my journey was about to start. The ride from the airport to the University Campus amazed me due to the similarity of the landscape in Boulder to Vorarlberg and the sudden rise in temperature in Boulder compared to Austria due to being at a higher altitude. Even though I was exhausted, the moment I met the other students, all the tiredness vanished away and after having gotten to know them better at the welcome picnic, we were already like a family. The following day, we all had classes to attend such as University Preparation, Academic English Skills Class, US Culture and a couple more. Although I was on my summer holidays, I loved having classes and walking almost half an hour to get to my classroom at the International English Center, shortly known as the IEC, for the simple reason that my classes were indeed educative but they were also fun to attend. From the atmosphere of the campus and the meals we had at C4C, which is one of the best dining halls I have ever seen that has food from almost all over the world, to every single class and excursions we had. I appreciated the fact that I had the opportunity to be in Boulder. After having classes on the weekdays, we always had excursions like hiking trips, watching baseball games and much more. At the weekend of the first week, we first went to the Chautauqua Park and had an amazing view of Boulder. Next, we went to Denver, the capital city of Colorado, also named “The Mile-High City”, to watch the baseball game ‘Rockies vs. White Sox’.

2nd week
Besides from having our regular classes, the trips to several universities in Colorado started with the following two: the University of Denver (DU) and CSU Fort Collins. Experiencing the campus life at different universities on our own and the information we gained through small talk with current university students and professors made the daily trips unforgettable. Hints on how to apply and which testing we needed – whether the SAT or the TOEFL or both – were useful information for future admission. What is more, as the Fiske Planetarium provided a show to explain the star constellation, all the students were eager to attend the showcase project. Most of the universities in the USA offer a place to work out at the Recreation Center if admitted to the University, me and my roommate went often to the Rec Center to work out, play tennis and ice skate after our classes. Speaking of ice, what is a better opportunity to meet new people than an Ice Cream Social? Me and all the students, while eating ice cream, talked to students of the ODECE Brigde Program. At the weekend, as we went on a hike to the Rocky Mountains National Park and Estes Park, the woods instantly reminded me of the breathtaking views at the mountain peaks in Austria, Vorarlberg. The Pearl Street Arts Fest on Sunday evening amazed every single one of the students.

3rd week
Christina Graham – a university professor – held a special psychology guest lecture for us, the EdUSA Academy students, to experience how university lectures are. Besides that, what amazed us the most was her passion but also our engagement and close examination of the topic as a group. Twice or thrice a week, Daniel Zacek held an Entrepreneurship Class to help us create our own products for the Shark Tank Project. The breakdown of the project is the following: The students get together in pairs and brainstorm for an existent but improved or non-existent product and create a business idea based on finance, production, marketing, logistics and disposal. After having set up a webpage, the students present their idea to the sharks. The universities we visited were the CU Denver, CU Anschutz, Colorado College and CSU Pueblo. All four universities and the former two have a lot to offer for their students and are marvelous places to study whether for a Bachelor’s or for a Master’s Degree.

Another opportunity for us to meet other students of our age was the Science Discovery Expo, which enabled students of other summer camps to present their exhibits, after having analyzed several aspects of a certain issue and having experimented. The Ice Cream Sundae Party with soon-to-be students of CU Boulder, our host university, lead to a lot of interesting conversations. Trips to the Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park and Boulder Creek and Settler’s Park on the weekend, allowed us to spend quality time within the group. It was just amazing to spend time together and create memories we would never forget because we knew there was only one week left.

4th week
The first special event of the last week apart from our regular classes, was the Welcome Picnic for the students arriving from the United Arab Emirates. Besides from enjoying the Middle Eastern food, I also enjoyed the small talk while getting to know a lot of new people. The universities we visited the last week were the Colorado School of Mines and the Front Range Community College and we realized that each time we were on a trip to a university, we were welcomed to a new world due to each university providing their student the option to create a certain unique lifestyle according to what the campus offers and what the students own interests are. After a four-week preparation, we were ready for our Shark Tank Presentations and what can I say, each one of us did amazing.

The following day, we went to the Boulder Public Library to listen to presentations of new startups, which was an amazing opportunity to see how an idea evolves to a real project which at the end turns out to have the potential to attract the attention of a couple of thousand people if not more. After finishing all major plans of our amazingly-planned program, it was time to receive our certificates at the IEC Showcase. Once again, this event showed us that all the work we invested in our classes and our project was worth it and we were proud. The Farewell Dinner Picnic was on our last day but we didn’t start counting hours, instead, from our legendary frisbee games to playing soccer and eating delicious food, we were enjoying the time to its fullest. After having tidied up our rooms and packed our luggage Friday night, a lot of us stayed up to say goodbye to the ones leaving early and slowly but steadily the number of students left back decreased. Some tried to hold back their tears but didn’t really succeed at doing so.

What I have gained from this unique and special journey is something so amazing and I know for sure that this will influence and change my future life: from the stunningly beautiful memories I have created with the amazing people I have met and will never forget to the places I’ve seen. Also having gotten the opportunity to know how to get admitted to a U.S. university based on the education I received at EdUSA Academy, I want to consider that option in the future whether it will be for my Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree. I appreciate every effort of every single person and organization – the START-scholarship, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Embassy in Austria, CU Boulder, the staff of the International English Center (IEC) at CU Boulder and finally all my friends from all around the world who participated in this program – who first of all enabled me to participate and also have an unforgettable time at the EdUSA Academy in Colorado, Boulder! I am thankful for everything!
Sinem Kiliç