Aaron Toland | Staff Writer
On a daily basis, the average man will speak about 7,000 words; on the other hand, the average woman will speak 20,000 words in the same time period. For almost every student at CGHS, all of the 7,000-20,000 words that they utter on a daily basis will be spoken in English. However, several CGHS students will not speak anywhere near this number of English words over the first six weeks of their summer break. These students will not be allowed to speak English at all.
CGHS junior Cadyn Cox and seniors Isaac Hagedorn, Adam Hering, Jenna Rager and Jacob Thrasher have all been accepted into the Indiana University Honors Program for Foreign Language(IUHPFL.) The IUHPFL allows a select number of Indiana high school students to spend more than six weeks in countries across the globe. While abroad, students live with host families, study their respective foreign language at a university and visit several points of interest in their country. During their time abroad, students must follow the IUHPFL honor code. Students are permitted from speaking English, reading anything in English and listening to any music in English. Additionally, students are not allowed to bring any of their personal electronic devices. In other words, no snapchat for over a month! Those in the program are also only allowed to stay in contact with their friends and families in the United States for an hour a week.
Along with the qualifications to remain in the IUHPFL, there are several qualifications to be accepted into the IUHPFL: students must attend an Indiana high school, be between 15 and 19 years of age, have completed a minimum of three years of the foreign language spoken in the country they wish to visit, have outstanding character and students must have a solid academic record. CGHS students decided to apply for the program for several reasons.
Adam Hering’s main reason for becoming apart of the IUHPFL was the positive experience that the program offered his sister.
“My sister applied for this program and had a blast when she went,” Hering said, who will be spending his summer speaking Spanish in Viña del Mar, Chilé. “She also came back fluent in Spanish and this is something I would like to achieve.”
“I decided to apply to the program firstly because I really love French,” junior Cadyn Cox said; this summer she will be in the city of St. Brieuc, France. “I find real joy in learning the language and look forward to coming class every day. The language and culture are so interesting and different from ours. When I was presented with the chance to experience it first-hand, I couldn’t turn it down. Also, I feel that it is becoming increasingly important to know a second language in our world today, especially with how global it is becoming.”
The IUHPFL is not only a rigorous experience academically; according to the program’s website, the program is also rigorous socially, emotionally, physically and personally. Hering and Cox are nervous about several facets of their trip abroad.
“I’m a little bit nervous to have limited contact with my family, but the excitement of experiencing a foreign country and getting to know my host family outweighs that,” Cox said. “I know I will miss my family, but the benefits I will be earning from the program will make the homesickness worth it. As for not being able to speak English, I figure the worst that will happen is that I become really good at playing charades.”
“I am not nervous about having limited contact with my family because I am a very independent person,” Hering said. “I am nervous about not speaking English because it will be difficult. Instead of going from Spanish IV to Spanish V, I am going from Spanish IV to Spanish IX.”
Despite their worries, Cox and Hering are excited for the summer that lies ahead of them. The two have set several linguistic and personal goals for their summer.
Cox said, “My goals are to improve my French speaking ability and become more independent and self-sufficient as I navigate this experience, hopefully preparing me for the next stage of my life.”
“Obviously learning to speak Spanish better, but the main thing is to immerse myself in a new culture and learn what I can,” Hering said. “Another one of my goals is to learn how to cook some of the food that they eat.”
One unique aspect of the program is that students live with host families. Living with a host family integrates students into the culture of the foreign country; furthermore, living with a host family provides emotional support and fosters linguistic development. After their summer abroad, many students consider their host families their second families. Hering and Cox are both excited about meeting their new families.
“I am genuinely excited to meet and live with my host family,” Cox said. “I’m excited to meet these new people and form new friendships with them.”
Hering adds, “I am looking forward to living with a host family, when my sister went on her trip she loved her host family. I have heard this from many people who went on this trip.”
Hering and Cox both plan to continue studying their respective languages post-IUHPFL. Hering and Cox are both planning on studying their languages when they go on to college; both students also hope to become fluent or near fluent by the time their foreign odyssey has ended.
The IUHPFL allows participants to jump-start their language abilities through cultural and linguistic immersion. The six CGHS students that applied for the program know what they are in for. Their time abroad will almost definitely push them to their breaking points academically, physically and mentally. The fact that these students are in the program despite the inherent challenges is a testament to their characters. If these students can bring their foreign language skills and their characters into our world, everyone will benefit.