- Student Spotlight
This article by Aureja Frolovaite ‘22 discusses what it was like to be an ASSIST scholar in this tough year. We also hear from Franzi Raupp ‘23 and Frederick Knof ‘23, who are also ASSIST scholars this year.
ASSIST is a non-profit organization founded in 1969 which has provided over 5,000 students from 52 countries an opportunity to go on an exchange year in one of 83 independent schools in the United States of America. Candidates, schools, host families, donors, and alumni are all crucial in making this possible. Therefore, the growing threat of COVID-19 posed a lot of new challenges for the class of 2021 scholars. Nevertheless, ASSIST is one of few organizations which went through with their program this year.
I am one of 98 scholars who have chosen to go on exchange this year. As countries are faced with the second wave of the coronavirus, many schools have closed, visas have been delayed, or restrictions on travel have been placed. However, I and four other students were fortunate enough to successfully start our year here at Perkiomen School.
My decision to come here was the most unsure thing I have ever done. I wasn’t surprised to hear people say I was out of my mind to decide that leaving Lithuania, which had about 20 new cases each day at the time, and coming to the US, which had about 4,000 new cases each day, was a good idea. Even then, I was faced with a number of challenges from travel restrictions placed on Schengen countries; I did not even know my school till the start of July. Therefore, I wanted to hear what my fellow scholars, Franzi and Frederick, who were going through an almost identical situation thought.
Q: Why did you choose to continue with the program this year even during a pandemic and did you have any doubts?
FRANZI: It was my dream for two years, therefore there was no way I wouldn’t go. Of course, I had some down points where I would wonder whether it was worth it. For instance, when my visa didn’t go through or ASSIST didn’t tell me the school. I kind of got used to the idea that I would not be able to come and I tried to comfort myself saying that maybe it was for the best.
FREDERICK: It was important for me to do it this year because I was waiting for it for three years. Therefore, it would have broken my heart if it didn’t happen. Even during corona and all the uncertainty caused by it ASSIST didn’t give up on the program this year, which inspired me not to give up, too.
Q: What was the most surprising thing you were able to do even during COVID-19?
FRANZI: I was surprised that even though there are so many restrictions I was still able to find friends. Overall, I really like that we are making the best out of the situation we are in. In addition, I was kind of overwhelmed by how much people are into sports here. I admire you all for doing so and hope to add that to my routine as well.
FREDERICK: Overall being in the US, simply going to the mall or doing American football. Even with corona, I still had a good time. For instance, I went to New York during Christmas. I am pretty sure that it will still be the best year of my life.
Pictured above: 2021 ASSIST scholars Bosse Wohlers, Aureja Frolovaite, Leo Bergendorff, Franzi Raupp, and Frederick Knof sharing in the vibrant spirit of Perkiomen outside of Kriebel Hall.