A Year in Muscat, Oman
Hey, there! I'm Shanaya Stephenson, a high school student from Atlanta, Georgia. Recently however, I became much more than your average high schoool student when I won a U.S. Department of State sponsored scholarship to go on a program known as Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange & Study Abroad (K-L YES Abroad). Through this program, I will receive the opportunity to act as a youth ambassador for the next 10 months to Oman, a beautiful Middle Eastern country on the edge of the Arabian Peninsula.
This Isn't Common:
According to this graphic by Connect All Schools, only 1 in 10, 800 US high school students study abroad on a year or semester program, and of those, less than 25% are minority students. In a rapidly globalizing world and economy, a universal mindset is becoming increasingly valuable. The abilities to speak a foreign language, understand another culture, and adapt well in a new environment are quickly becoming standard skills, and without them, many students will lose their ability to compete with foreigners who are doing just that in our future job market.
As a result of noticing this gap in our education, I've decided to start an exchange student resource website geared towards getting U.S. high school students, especially minorities, interested and involved in study abroad exchange programs. It's called The Curly Muscateer, named for where I'll be staying, Muscat, Oman, and my naturally curly hair that makes me stand out! I will be doing videos, writing inspirational articles, giving helpful tips, and uncovering opportunities for my peers!
YES Abroad Visit to Omani Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Impact of The Curly Muscateer
One has to wonder, could the lack of participation in exchange programs come from just not knowing that these opportunities exist? What would happen if someone were to get the message out that there about the wealth of opportunities for their taking? This is where I believe my project comes in.
Study abroad gives students the opportunity to acquire these skills at a young age, and allows them to put their knowledge to use in their daily lives post-exchange. The Curly Muscateer will be a total exchange student resource blog website that will chronicle my experiences as an exchange student in Muscat.
I will use this site as a means to share the benefits of international education with the missed 99%, my own peers. I hope to, in turn, inspire prospective exchange students through this resource, which will help improve these numbers. Using the power of social media and my own skills as writer, photographer, and video blogger, I will make international education COOL.
Where will your donation go?
By donating you will be, in a sense, directly supporting U.S. international education by investing in one of it's products -- me! Your funding will go directly into turning the site into a proper resource & supporting me and my brand while abroad. Here are the ways you'll see your donation be put to use:
- Research: I hope to fully expand the blog site, and turn it into a big landing pad for exchangers. For example, I currently have a page on The Curly Muscateer blog that lists a few of the popular exchange scholarships. I will add many more opportunities and fellowships that would work for even young adults in college, among other things! In addition, I hope to add helpful articles and tips for the students. Getting this done will take time, energy, and dollars.
- Advertising campaigns: I want to use this ambitious method as a way of getting the message out there to high school and college age kids who have an interest in furthering their education for the better!
- Video blogs and Photos: My work on The Curly Muscateer will be highly concentrated on the video blogs and media. I've done some small vlogs already and have had a positive reaction! From experience, it makes the interaction with the viewer highly personal & more relateable. Therefore, it will bring in more prospective students. I will need to get some equipment to use while abroad, including a good quality camera, a tripod, editing software, etc. This is where the bulk of the fundraising money will go.
Can't donate right now?
If you believe in what I'm doing with The Curly Muscateer, but cannot donate at the moment, you can help by sharing this campaign and passing the word on to your friends, or someone that you know CAN donate!
Thanks for taking the time to consider my campaign! Please share and tweet your support on the hashtag #FundTheCurlyMuscateer!
Host of The Curly Muscateer