A Postponed Experience

Summit Students are yearning for a change in environment after two years stuck in Bend


Sarah Hawkins, Staff Writer

New people. New cultures. New places. 

The anticipation of going abroad is becoming harder and harder to bear. After not traveling out of the country due to COVID-19 in 2020 and having abroad programs postponed due to another spike in 2021, the new year 2022 is finally giving hope. Students stuck so close to home over the course of two years have become antsy with the suspense of having new experiences.

Geneva Grube, a sophomore at Summit, is traveling through the Rotary Club to go to Sweden this summer. 

“I’ve always wanted to do a program abroad, but because of COVID I haven’t left Bend in so long, and it has made me want to go far away even more,” Grube said.

Various students throughout Summit are going abroad through programs such as through the Rotary Club in Bend, which is an international humanitarian organization. It partnered with the Interact Club at Summit to send four students out of the country during the summer and two students next school year.

Teenagers are tired of doing the same old, same old, and a month in Sweden or France or a year in Korea or Switzerland is the perfect chance for a change.

The U.S. Department of State’s merit-based scholarships to study abroad has the power to change the lives of these students. Shelley Zheng, one of these recipients, got offered not one, but two scholarships to study abroad. Zheng has the opportunity of a lifetime spending a year full of unknowns in a new place, after two years of the exact same thing.

“COVID-19 played a huge role in my decision to go abroad. There was a lot of uncertainty happening,” Zheng said. “Last year I was planning on applying, but due to freezes such as COVID, I didn’t end up going.”

Luckily, Zheng didn’t give up due to the false hope and uncertainty of COVID in the past years, and she found the drive to apply once again, yearning to travel.

The interest in going abroad is not limited to Zheng. Anja Bond-Welch, a Summit sophomore traveling to Switzerland through an exchange program, found out about the program before COVID-19 hit, but couldn’t go until this summer. 

“I’m super excited because since COVID hit I have felt kind of stuck in Bend, and now I get to travel around,” Bond-Welch said.

Going abroad through the Rotary Club constructs a more affordable experience out of the country. Bruce Abernathy, the Interact Club advisor at Summit, is a member of one of the rotary clubs in Bend, Oregon. Abernathy feels going abroad is an amazing experience for those who want it to be and the pandemic doesn’t seem to have deterred Summit students. Due to the virus, the Rotary Club severely downsized, but out of a region of 55 rotary clubs, 13 students are going abroad this summer and with that, four of them are from Summit.

The privilege of traveling out of the country is an incredible opportunity for high school students who seem to be taking more advantage of it since COVID-19. From summer excursions to full-year exchanges, the lives of teenagers change forever after an experience abroad. 

An exchange program can do wonders for students’ futures; it teaches responsibility, self-reliance, and maturity. An abroad program might be just the right thing for students’ futures and sanity. Students can only hope that there will be no more surprises and that it’s not just wishful thinking.