Manny Arellano preps for exchange year
Granby high school student Manny Arellano is preparing for the coming school year, and one of the greatest adventures of his life.
On August 31 the gregarious and independent young man will board a plane and travel halfway around the world to begin a year studying abroad as an exchange student. He doesn’t know exactly where he will spend the next year of his life, though it will be somewhere in France. As July inexorably moves into August Arellano is hurriedly preparing for this exciting new journey in his life with both joy and trepidation.
Arellano’s exchange program is administered by AFS Intercultural Programs. AFS originally stood for American Field Service and was formed in World War I by American volunteer ambulance drivers. Arellano reviewed other exchange organizations, such as Rotary International, before deciding on AFS.
“I researched organizations,” Arellano said. “There are a lot in the US. What really called out to me about AFS is they promote intercultural study. They do not want to merge things, or rid people of their culture. They just want to build the bridges that allow people to really put themselves in other people’s shoes.”
Arellano just finished up his sophomore year at Middle Park High School (MPHS), receiving his letter of approval from AFS one week before finishing the 2016 school year. The young man was born in California but has spent almost his entire life in Grand County. “My memories from here go back as far as learning how to ride a bike,” he said. He is the middle child out of five boys, all raised by their mother Yolanda.
Arellano initially got excited about the idea of becoming an exchange student during his French class lessons at MPHS. “We were learning what it is like to be immersed in another culture,” he said. Arellano’s got plenty of work cut out for himself to be fully prepared to leave on August 31, including traveling to LA later this summer to secure his Student Visa.
He has been sponsored by AFS, which covers a portion of his exchange program costs, but he continues to raise additional funds to pay for his entrance into the program. He has set up a Go-Fund-Me account that you can find by searching for “Go Fund Me Manny Arellano”.
Arellano also highlighted that AFS is currently seeking Colorado host families for 16 AFS foreign exchange students. The foreign exchange students coming to Colorado through AFS hail from China, Japan, Turkey, Pakistan and even Iraq among others. If you are interested in becoming an exchange student host family, or to learn more about the program, you can go to http://www.afsusa.org/host-family/.
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Lately, when Winter Park resident Gene Palumbo and his wife head to Winter Park Resort, they park in one of the lots and walk to the base.