Multi-cultural group of FLEX, YES, and Abaarso scholarship students display their bracelets
Kim's students display their “What’s Your Word?” bracelets

What's Your Word?

I understand, before your departure to begin your exchange year, you all had dreams and ideas of things you wanted to achieve, with many new experiences just awaiting your arrival.  Now that you have been here for about a month, do you have any regrets? Are there opportunities you declined that you now wish you had tried? What is holding you back from taking full advantage of your time here, learning as many new things as you can, and acting on your dreams? This weekend, I challenged my YES, FLEX, and Abaarso scholarship students with this idea, and asked them, “What’s Your Word?”

I wanted my students to share something personal with their group. They are all, now, one month through their stay in Vermont, so they have some concrete ideas on what has prevented them from achieving all they are striving for. I wanted to know what their challenge is while here. Then, we turned their challenge into a personal challenge for the rest of their time here. 

Students had varied ideas about where their challenges lie. For example, one student said she would like to be the person taking the initiative more to start conversations with students, to make new friends. One also felt she needed to be more comfortable in groups, and to put herself into more social situations to make new friends, too. One young man wanted to use his time here to become more responsible for his own actions. Another wanted to gain skills adapting to new situations while here, so that he will have that skill as an adult at home.

Whatever the word, students now have a daily reminder of this in the form of a bracelet. They can see, every day, what their hopes are to move past any initial regrets and make progress toward their dreams. Cheers to these students, who all opened themselves up to the group, shared something personal, and have a new determination to move forward. So, what’s your word?

—Kimberly Eckhardt, Vermont Regional Development Manager