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April American Abroad Student of the Month: Bryca Song-Weiss
Bryca Song-Weiss, a Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Abroad (YES Abroad) participant, is the U.S. Department of State’s April 2019 American Abroad Student of the Month. From Somerville, MA, Bryca is currently studying in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Bryca’s everyday efforts make her an inspirational exchange student and a model YES Abroad participant. Possessing an incredible awareness of her own actions and respect for cultural differences, Bryca reflects on conversations with members of her host country and ideas that cross her mind, thinking critically about her own actions and how to adapt them to experience Bosnia and Herzegovina to the fullest.Very observant and ready to ask questions and change her habits, Bryca strives to truly live life in the way of her host community.
Bryca makes significant efforts to speak her host culture’s language, Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian (BCS), and can now speak it fluently, allowing her to share the American culture with her extended host family and local friends who don’t speak English. Bryca is the first to admit that she makes many mistakes, but humbly acknowledges that is simply the best way to learn a new language.
Bryca shares stories with people in her host community, including information about the American school system, as well as her natural family's traditions and religion. With YES inbound alumni last fall, Bryca prepared and co-facilitated Halloween- and Thanksgiving-themed events for children. She also regularly assists a resident Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in delivering weekly English conversation classes and volunteers to help organize the YES inbound program testing for future exchange students. During International Education Week, Bryca held a discussion about her study abroad experience and provided information about applying to U.S. colleges with 100 students from three local high schools. Being highly interested in Model UN, Bryca joined the MUN club at her host school and used every opportunity to learn from her peers and contribute her own experience to help organize the conference in Banja Luka.
Despite a busy schedule, Bryca dedicates a part of each day to bonding with her host family. It’s the everyday things, she says — sitting in the living room chatting or helping them to prepare food — that have gone a long way in building long-lasting ties with those who are closest to her. Her host family has had only the best to say about her enthusiasm and readiness to learn about the culture and get involved in day to day life.