Most teenagers dream of studying abroad, living vicariously through influencers and bloggers sharing their travels for all to see. But Silas Adkins, an 11th grade student at George Washington University Online High School (GWUOHS) turned his dreams of visiting Japan into a reality.
Silas grew up with a deep appreciation for Japanese culture, attending Japanese school every Saturday where he learned about the language and culture. Because of his experiences there, Silas knew he eventually wanted to be immersed in Japanese culture to improve his language fluency and experience firsthand the culture he had spent over a decade studying.
For most high school students, studying abroad during the school year would not be possible. For Silas, GWUOHS’s flexibility not only allowed him to participate in once-in-a-lifetime experiences, but also encouraged him to integrate the trip into the existing curriculum and to share it with his classmates.
Silas was assigned a digital photography project and his trip to Japan was the perfect subject. A travel blog was born, to chronicle and share his adventures with his family and peers. He compiled pictures of the sights he saw, wrote up anecdotes of bonding with Japanese high school students over baseball, and reflected on the importance of not being afraid to make mistakes when learning a new language. Excerpts of his blog were shared in the GW Chronicle of Yawp, the school’s online student newspaper, for all his classmates to see.
Silas’s travel blog is just the start of his travel documentation. “I only included several highlights to entice and grab my reader,” says Silas.
Of his travels, blogging, and what’s to come, Silas encourages other students interested in studying abroad to do the same.
“I believe if students travel, they should journal their experiences, not only so they can share it with others, but also so they have a general idea of when these events took place to go along with the pictures,” says Silas. “Otherwise, when you are retelling your adventure, it can be overwhelming and confusing for you and your audience.”
He will be self-publishing a book giving a full account of his study abroad experience while also depicting his friends’ experiences of being American students in Japan. His book, which is expected to release this spring, will help Silas fund his next trip, this time to the Philippines.
To learn more about George Washington University Online High School, visit https://www.gwuohs.com/.