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Stephanie Bourque
2006 Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, Christchurch, New Zealand

Deciding to pack my bags and head to the other side of the world for a whole year wasn’t an easy decision.  However, after three years at Auburn, I was ready for a new adventure.  When I found out about the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship through a scholarship presentation on-campus, I never dreamed that I would spend a year in New Zealand, some 8000 miles from Auburn and my home in southeastern Louisiana.  Not only famous for the recent “Lord of the Rings” movies, New Zealand is truly a spectacular place.  Imagine the entire continent of North America with its dramatic costal areas, stunning mountains and vast plains, all compacted into two islands.  Then add some 40 million sheep and a mere 4 million people. 

Before applying for the scholarship, I didn’t know much about Rotary or what the scholarship might entail.  I quickly found out that the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship is the largest privately funded scholarship in the world and since 1947 has sent over 37,000 students to over 100 countries worldwide.  The scholarship gives students not only the opportunity to study abroad, but also to build goodwill and develop friendships in other countries.  The application process was straightforward and included both a written and interview component.  On the application, I chose five universities (from almost any university in the world) that I wanted to study at for an academic year.  Top on my list was New Zealand, specifically the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, on the South Island.  Luckily, I was matched with my first choice and was placed in Christchurch where I studied from February to November 2006.  The scholarship is designed to cover tuition, room and board, travel expenses and contingency funds for one academic year and was generous enough to cover all of my expenses throughout my year in New Zealand.

 

Before leaving the United States, I had the opportunity to speak to my sponsor club in Louisiana, gather souvenirs from New Orleans and Auburn, and make contact with my host club in New Zealand.  As I left for New Zealand I was a bit anxious but was completely relieved when I arrived in Christchurch and met with my host counselor.  Knowing that I already had a support network there was a huge relief and also great asset throughout the year.  The members of the Rotary club were always eager help me out and share their country and local knowledge with me.  As a result, I had several invitations for dinner, weekend getaways, and other events that I wouldn’t have experienced otherwise.  I had the opportunity to volunteer at the hospital, organize a youth triathlon and sell tickets to the rugby games (in exchange for free  admission!) all through contacts in Rotary.                        

 

During my year abroad, I had the opportunity to travel throughout both the South and North Islands of New Zealand, as well as Australia and part of Southeast Asia.  Skiing in June and July, chasing lambs around a paddock, hiking on a glacier, exploring Sydney and Melbourne, and scuba diving in Malaysia were some of the highlights of a very memorable year.  Overall, I can’t thank Rotary International, my sponsor club in Louisiana and my host club in New Zealand enough for providing me with the opportunity for an incredible study abroad experience.  I can, without a doubt, recommend the Rotary scholarship program to anyone wanting to study abroad and truly experience another culture firsthand.

 

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Created 09/18/2009 04:43:50 PM

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