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Corona student participates in Kennedy-Lugar program

This article was originally published in the CDS Sunrise, March 9, 2012.

By Josh Ambre

Although the concept of a small world is by no means a radical one, the notion of expanding  one’s influence and ideas beyond borders, across oceans and through social boundaries is widely considered a daunting idea. But while many people are content to live within the accommodating confines of their own society, Corona del Sol junior Savannah Wooten has been granted the opportunity to break free from these social inhibitions thanks to the Kennedy-Lugar YES Abroad program.

This program, headed by the U.S. Department of Education and Cultural Affairs, is responsible for selecting candidates for studying abroad in one of 11 mainly Muslim countries. After a lengthy application process, Wooten has been selected as one of the 90 semi-finalists and will be traveling to Denver this month where further interviews will be conducted. Once the 55 finalists have been selected, they will travel to their preferred countries during the 2012-13 school year.

“I really want to become a finalist,” Wooten said. “I’ve always been interested in the cultures of other countries and how they interact. I’m excited to get the opportunity to meet people from a culture not my own.”

If Wooten’s efforts are a success and she is selected as one of the finalists, a wide range of opportunities will open up to her.

“If I am accepted as a finalist, they’ll train me all about the country’s customs and I’ll be assigned a host family for a year. I’ll learn all about that country’s ways of life,” she said.

In spite of the expansive benefits the Kennedy-Lugar program offers, the main reason for its existence is one of a more serious nature.

“The Kennedy-Lugar program was originally established after 9/11,” Wooten said. “It’s meant to foster peaceful relations between foreign countries.”

Yet even with this imposing task before her, Wooten remains eager to claim her share of the wealth of opportunities this program affords participants.

“If I become a finalist, it would be a rare opportunity,” Wooten said. “Although I don’t know where I’m going to go yet, my top choices are Bosnia, Morocco, Mali, Malaysia and Oman. It’s an opportunity that not many people get to encounter, and to get accepted as a finalist would be awesome.”