Skip to Content

### Scholarships Awarded by Rotary Club to Sophomores for Overseas Study

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — A pair of high school students from Johns Creek are eagerly anticipating their upcoming study abroad programs for the next school year, which will offer them an immersive experience with minimal usage of the English language.

Erika Gabrielson, a sophomore at Northview High School, and Marcela Vega, also a sophomore but from Johns Creek High School, were granted $25,000 scholarships each by the Rotary Club of Johns Creek North Fulton to support their international endeavors.

The selection process was rigorous, involving thorough background checks, referrals, and a series of interviews. The culmination of this process was marked by an event named “The Big Reveal” held in December. It was during this event that Gabrielson and Vega discovered their study destinations by popping balloons that contained the names of the countries they would be visiting.

Over the span of approximately 10 months, Gabrielson will reside in Brazil, while Vega will explore Sweden. Both students will have the opportunity to stay with three different host families, with the assistance of Rotarians throughout their journey. Leading up to their departure, they have been diligently studying the languages of their respective host countries.

Bob MacDonald, serving as the youth exchange officer for the Rotary Club of Johns Creek North Fulton, highlighted that Rotary International has been organizing study abroad programs for nearly a century. Setting it apart from similar initiatives, this program is run entirely by volunteers. This year, MacDonald mentioned that over 9,000 students worldwide have been awarded $25,000 scholarships each.

“The underlying idea is to send individuals to foreign countries to fully immerse themselves in the local culture,” explained MacDonald. “Through this process, we aim to foster peace and mutual understanding, one student at a time.”

Gabrielson expressed her enthusiasm for experiencing the cuisine in Brazil, engaging with new acquaintances, and enhancing her proficiency in Portuguese through immersion.

Accompanied by her mother, Angel Gabrielson, they had just attended a session where Civil Rights activist and Johns Creek resident John Suttles shared his inspiring narrative on January 24. As part of the program requirements, participants are expected to attend a Rotary event monthly and engage in a service project before embarking on their journey.

Angel mentioned that her initial concerns about her daughter spending a significant part of the year in another country are diminishing as she learns more about the program, expressing her excitement for the unique opportunity presented to her daughter.

Vega shared her curiosity about observing the lifestyle in Sweden and exploring how language influences thoughts and modes of self-expression.

“I am eager to witness how language and culture shape our identities as individuals and how these interactions can lead to personal growth,” Vega remarked.