Tamarac High School senior James Heatley spent his senior year attending a high school in Vilnius, Lithuania. He studied ethics, trigonometry, physics, Lithuanian literature and history, music and English. In the evenings, he attended a local university to study Lithuanian. James studied Russian at Tamarac and learned about the program from the agency that sponsors the Olympiad of Spoken Russian.
James lived with a host family in Vilnius. He participated in many different service projects while there and helped teach Lithuanians about the United States and American culture.
Studying abroad helped James grow in a way he would have never expected. He made strong friendships in such a short period of time. He enjoyed befriending new people, deepening relationships, and encountering and embracing new cultures.
“I am much more connected to who I am as a person. This experience shaped the way I see the world and gave me time to analyze what makes me an American,” said Heatley.
In the fall, James plans to attend Hudson Valley Community College to study Environmental Policy.
ExCEL Abroad provides scholarships for high school students from the United States to live and study in Lithuania for an academic year.
Program participants will serve as “youth ambassadors” of the United States. By forming lasting relationships within their host community, participants will promote mutual understanding between the U.S and Lithuania. Students will live with a host family, attend a local high school, and engage in activities to learn about Lithuania’s people, culture, and values. Such activities can be through the host high school, through community organizations, through an independent study project, and through community service, in which participants are expected to take part.
ExCEL Abroad is made possible by a generous grant from the Kazickas Family Foundation. ExCEL Abroad builds on the success of ExCEL, a program for Lithuanian high school students which has provided transformational exchange experiences and strengthened the foundation of US-Lithuania friendship since 2010. The program is generously sponsored by the Kazickas Family Foundation.
The ExCEL Abroad scholarship covers costs related to roundtrip airfare between the participant’s home region and community abroad; in-country support; cultural activities; school tuition (where applicable); room and board with a host family; medical coverage; visa fees; and a modest stipend.