The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

Local News

August 5, 2013

American in Americana

Medina Journal-Register — Studying abroad while in college is something many students tend to try once.

Medina’s Charissa Farnsworth just finished her second trip abroad, and thanks to winning a Gilman Scholarship, the costs of the educational trip were significantly defrayed. The Gilman Scholarship Program is sponsored by the US State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Originally planned as a three-week trip, Farnsworth wound up spending a month in Americana, Sao Paolo in Brazil. The scholarship required Farnsworth to write an essay explaining how the trip to South America would be a benefit. Her student standing and grades also played a factor. In addition, she needed to add a “follow on” portion to the project that would help her “promote the scholarship and share the experience.”

For Farnsworth, the trip was a full-fledged cultural immersion and, according to her, a bit of a milestone for Genesee Community College as she said she was the first from the school to take this particular trip.

Making matters a bit more unique was Brazil’s national language is Portuguese, a language Farnsworth learned on the fly.

“I took Portuguese three hours a day, five days a week,” she recalled. “It’s hard, because it has so many more verb forms than English, and a lot of sounds in Portuguese are not in Spanish. It’s more complicated than Spanish.”

Farnsworth joked that her previous foreign language education was French, which of course did not help very much.

Being fully immersed in a foreign country helped Farnsworth gain an appreciation for the culture of its people. She went to a variety of different events and festivals, and she spent the month with a host family.

The family, she said, made a difference in the experience.

“I had people around me to make the trip easier,” she said. “Even though I didn’t speak the language, we were able to communicate enough and understand each other enough to get through.” She added the only member of the host family to speak any English was their daughter - her “host sister.”

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