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February American Abroad Student of the Month: Olivia Jenkins
Olivia Jenkins, a Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Abroad Program (YES Abroad) participant, is the U.S. Department of State’s February 2019 American Abroad Student of the Month. From North Carolina, Olivia is currently studying in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Olivia takes great initiative in finding activities that are not only interesting to her but that also allow her to meet locals and learn more about her host community. One such activity has been volunteering twice a week at the History Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since October, each Monday and Wednesday Olivia has assisted staff with organizing the museum’s vast archives, leading tours, and sorting through photos and old newspaper articles and letters in Bosnian, all of which are then included in the museum’s exhibits. Volunteering at the museum combines Olivia’s love for history with her desire to learn more about her host country.
Besides the museum, Olivia teaches English classes to members of the Center for Education and Research, Nahla. Olivia also assisted teaching immigrant children at the School of Friendship. Olivia has promoted the YES program across Sarajevo and volunteered with YES alumni to promote U.S. culture at the city’s SoS Kinderdorf and English Club. Most recently, together with peers from her host school Ćetvrta Gimnazija, Olivia volunteered at the European Youth Olympic Festival.
When it comes to school, Olivia’s teachers are impressed by her adaptation to the Bosnian-language high school and ability to build connections with her classmates. In fact, one of her teachers notes she is one of the most motivated, responsible, and dedicated students she has had so far.
Olivia has taken great care to build a positive relationship with her host family. Despite her busy school, and even busier after-school schedule, Olivia makes it a priority to spend quality time with her host parents and host sister. She has developed valuable friendships with her Bosnian peers through her involvement with the European Youth Parliament, membership in a local girls’ basketball team, and with her positive attitude and respectful outlook towards her host culture.
Through her hard work, curiosity, and open-minded approach, Olivia has immersed herself into her host country fully.