Back in May, the Austin Weekly News interviewed two young students who were preparing for a studies abroad program for the summer.
Ashley Dowdy and Candice Harden were two of Providence St. Mel Highschools students chosen to study in the “Summer Opportunity of a Lifetime program.” This program has been providing similar opportunities to youth for the past 15 years. Ashley Dowdy studied in Switzerland taking courses at the Leysin American School, and Candice Harden studied in England at Oxford.
The Austin Weekly News sat down again with Ashley and Candice now that they have returned home.
AWN: Tell us a little bit about your trip.
Ashley: My trip was exciting and it took about 12 hours to get there. I flew on United Airlines. It was exciting because I got to sit by the window, plus we had in-flight movies going over and coming back. The people from Leysin American School was there to greet me upon my arrival.
AWN: What kind of country did you find Switzerland to be?
Ashley: It was a very nice country and there was a diversity of African Americans and Caucasians people. I was in Geneva, Switzerland and this is how my schedule was; breakfast, morning classes from 8 a.m. 12:30 p.m., then lunch and afternoon activities. I shared a room with two German young ladies. My classes were; journalism, speech, improvisation, world culture and religion. Improvisation was my favorite class because it was about acting and speaking. And journalism was also one of my favorite classes.
AWN: Did this experience broaden your views?
Ashley: Yes I saw that it just wasn’t Caucasian people, it was black people too. The language spoken was French, but they also had a language that was Swiss.
AWN: You are interested in being a sports reporter, were you asked about that?
Ashley: Yes, they asked me who my inspiration for journalism was. I said Howard Cossell. I was also surprised to learn that they knew a lot about African American history. I made new friends. One friend I made is from Atlanta, Georgia and we plan to stay in touch with each other.”
Next was Candice Harden who was in England during the terrible subway bombings in July.
AWN: “Candice tell us about your trip”
Candice: “The trip was seven hours long and I did fall asleep, however, I did see the sun rising which was beautiful. I flew on United Airlines and upon arrival we first exchanged our money into pounds.
AWN: Where did you stay and when did you first learn of the bombings?”
Candice: “I stayed at Oxford University campus. I don’t remember the exact date of the bombings but I was in class. Our classes were from 9 (a.m.) to noon. When we got out of class we immediately had a emergency meeting; no one knew what was going on. They only told us two people died and they wanted us to stay close to the campus. My friend and I went to the Internet shop, which was a block from our campus and we found that 35 people had died and a lot of people were injured.
AWN: Did this stop you from getting around and touring?
Candice: Not really, because I didn’t get on buses anyway because you had to know where you were going to get on the bus. Oxford was about 1 hour away. [The bombings] happened in London. It happened during rush hour around 8 a.m. I was shaken. Although I was surprised by my peers’ reactions. They took it like soft, they took it too soft for me. I was really concerned like oh my God, a terrorist attack.
AWN: You want to become a forensic lab analyst; how do you think the people saw you as a young African American student?
Candice: I was actually surprised because in England there were more Africans then I thought it would be. There wasn’t as many in Oxford, but I was surprised that the racism wasn’t like it is in the U.S., and they are more aware of our culture than in the United States.
Ashley and Candice both seem to have had a wonderful experience abroad and we’re happy to have them back home.