Why We Do it Wednesdays- Hannah

 API employees work tirelessly in the U.S. and abroad to serve our participants and ensure they have the best international experience possible. At API, we all share stories of personal transformation by international experience. We remember our first days abroad, our first meals, and our first international flights. We have stories of transformation in common with our API alumni who study, work, intern, and teach abroad all over the world. In our new series, “Why We Do It Wednesday,” we’ll share a glimpse into why API employees love to work at API- through the eyes of our alumni.

This week we profile Hannah Ebanks, Global Leader at Emerson College.  Hannah participated in the Paris program as a Gap Year student.

“When people asked me what I was planning to do after graduating high school I would say; “I would like to study abroad for a year in Paris before heading to college.” I think many people thought the idea was cool, but a little far-fetched. The only way to show people I was serious about it was to apply for programs and then go to Paris to study. I was only seventeen when I graduated and although the thought of college excited me, the opportunity to travel and see the world was even more exciting.

Hannah at the Louvre

Hannah at the Louvre

Since I was younger I had dreamed about going to Paris, and I am grateful that I was able to make it a reality. This set a precedent for my future; I had a dream and was able to make it a reality. Studying abroad was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I think being able to share my experience with others and programs like the API Global Leadership Academy will help to increase the percentage of American college students that study abroad.

When I described my international experience to my grandma I would often talk about the differences between Paris and where we lived. I would tell her what I had for dinner or what the weather was like. My grandmother has not been to Europe, so I always tried to use as much detail as possible. However, she was an immigrant and understood the difficulty of trying to assimilate into a new culture. Talking with her, helped me understand how difficult it could be to move to a country where you don’t speak the language. It also showed me that anywhere could become home, just as she thinks of where we live as home.

My friends were slightly jealous that I was studying in Paris. When I talked to them I would describe the cultural differences, usually about style or school. I often talked about the amazing excursions I went on with API and how they showed me that France was more than Paris. Finally, I would tell them about how sometimes it was hard being so far away from home and it’s important to have realistic expectations; not every single moment will be amazing. I would always add that the good definitely outweighed the bad and I would do everything over in a heartbeat.

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Being abroad was an eye-opening experience, especially since I was staying with a host family, which provided direct access into a Parisian lifestyle. My host mother and I would often discuss the difference in attitudes when it comes to work. I believe that France has some interesting ideas regarding labor laws and I would be able to use this knowledge to share with my potential employer. I also became conversational in French, which is useful when having to communicate with clients or colleagues that speak French as people are often appreciative and more receptive when you can speak their language.”

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