Last fall, while seniors were applying to colleges, senior Grace Boehm wasn’t sure what career path she wanted to take. She was planning on going to college, but since she was undecided on her major, she didn’t think she wanted to go immediately after high school.
“I basically had a little meltdown and was like, ‘Mom, I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life,’” Grace said. “My mom suggested that I looked into some kind of service work.”
After taking four years of Spanish at East, Grace had always been interested in traveling abroad to Spain, but never had an opportunity. As a very involved member of her Mennonite church, she received an opportunity to go abroad to Bolivia through the Mennonite Central Conference. She will be spending 11 months with a host family in the church’s day care, Guadaria Moises.
Since the school system in Santa Cruz has alternating half days for children, Grace will be tutoring the kids who go during the morning in the afternoon, and helping the kids that go to class during the afternoon in the morning.
“It’s the poorest country in South America, so I’m assuming it’ll be really different,” Grace said. “They probably don’t have as much funding, but I don’t know a lot yet.”
The trip to Bolivia, sponsored by the Rainbow Mennonite Church, suggests a donation of $4,600 for living costs and health care. Throughout the year, Grace has been holding fund raisers to help pay for this expense. Recently, she held a fund raiser lunch.
“I’ve just made $1,380 so I’m kind of getting there,” Grace said. “I have to make the $4,600 by August.”
Grace hopes that the trip will give her an idea of the kind of career path she’ll take. She knows she’ll be going to Goshen College, a Mennonite school in Indiana after her gap year. She hopes to do something involving Spanish, which she’s taken for four years.
“I think I want to do immigration law, because I’ll be fluent in Spanish when I get back,” Grace said. “I would do a major in Spanish and a minor in pre-law.”
Although Grace’s father Robert Boehm describes having his daughter so far away as “scary,” he believes it will be a great experience for her. For the 11 months she’ll be gone, he says they will be communicating mostly through Skype.
“Whatever she needs, she knows we’re there to help,” Robert said.
On August 11, Grace will leave for the church’s orientation week in Pennsylvania, where she will learn more about the trip. Then, on August 17, she will fly to Bolivia and return in July of 2012.
“It’s a huge adventure and I’ve never really done anything like it in my entire life,” Grace said. “It’s a little nerve-racking, but I’m excited to grow and find what I want to do and have an adventure.”