Ffynone House School sixth-former, Jasmine (far right), has had a truly inspiring summer. After studying a British curriculum with us for just two years, she took her GCSE exams a year early and achieved an impressive crop of Grade 7s, 8s and 9s. As if preparing for these exams was not enough, she spent the spring of Year 11 securing both a scholarship for the International Diplomacy Program in Washington DC and a medical internship at Shands Hospital, Florida. Jasmine is now taking A-levels in Maths, Chemistry, Biology and Physics to facilitate a medical degree in the USA. Jasmine writes about her sensational summer here:
My seventy-eight-day summer adventure started as soon as I finished my last GCSE exam, with a flight to New York. I slept the entire way there! We drove over 10,000 miles along the East coast of the US. There I spent two weeks at my ‘happy place,’ Camp Crystal Lake in Gainesville. Here, I engaged in archery, sailing, water skiing, kayaking, SUP and lots of campfire shenanigans. The camp focuses on environmental education and also playing hard in the Florida sun. Sadly, this was my last year, but I hope to go back as a Camp Counsellor one day.
Internship at Shands Hospital, Florida
Gainesville was also the location for my next adventure, a three-week internship at Shands Hospital at the University of Florida. It was hard work, long hours and completely fascinating.
In the mornings, I was assigned to the Core Lab with a Hawaiian girl named Sara. The majority of the time we spent sorting samples that had been sent to be tested through a tube system that runs through the hospital. As UF Health is a gigantic place, samples came every second for hours on end, so we ended up running around the whole time… it was great exercise! In the afternoon, I helped in the eye clinic. I ran errands for the opticians; anything from getting coffee to filing patient charts.
Both placements showed me that there is so much going on in the background that we are oblivious about. Things like greeting a patient a certain way, or helping overloaded nurses restock cleaning supplies, really go a long way. This experience only further fuelled my dream to become a neurosurgeon.
International Diplomacy Program, Washington DC
On the last day of my internship in Florida, I flew straight to Washington, DC on my first ever solo flight, to participate in the International Diplomacy Program at Georgetown University. We spent the days in lectures on World Politics and International Relations, learning about how to be a successful diplomat on the global stage. In the Leadership we learned how to communicate effectively with people of different backgrounds and cultures and how our personality types play a role in our ability to lead.
I went to the UN, the United States Congress, many Embassies in DC and met some incredible young people from around the world. The diversity of our group was really eye opening. We shared our stories and cultures, and ultimately learned how similar we all are with our experience as youth in this world.
NSLC taught me how to be my best and most productive self, making the most out of every encounter. This was the most amazing and stimulating experience of my life and I feel that it truly changed me. I must offer a big ‘thank you’ to The National Student Leadership Conference and Net Generation Youth for awarding me a scholarship for the program.
Mum and Dad picked me up in DC and we drove North back to Corning, New York to see my Aunty. The highlight of this trip was the Corning Glass Museum and Butterfalls State Park and just hanging out with my cousins. I brought one back with me – Jared is now at Ffynone!
We then drove to Vermont and met with some political friends of my parents. Campaign fever was everywhere. Being very politically involved, I found the wave of campaign posters and talk of upcoming midterms to be very exciting. Everyone we know is working on the midterm elections in some way, from making phone calls to voters to hanging posters in local coffee shops, everyone was trying to spread their message. We left Burlington thinking we might want to live there one day. The feeling of one united community working towards a common goal was empowering and truly invigorating.
United States Military Academy, West Point.
Our penultimate trip was to the United States Military Academy, West Point. Since I was born, this school has played a large role in my life. My dad went there and I have been amalgamated into the West Point community. This is the university I would love to attend one day. The University is on the Hudson River and is stunning. My parents met with the West Point rugby coach and a US Olympian to plan a visit by West Point rugby team to Swansea next year.
During our stay at West Point, GCSE results day came around! There is a five-hour time difference between the East Coast and the UK. The shear anticipation of finally seeing my results meant that I managed to stay up until four in the morning to receive my results with my classmates back in Wales! I was thrilled with my achievements and fell asleep happy!
Time to reflect
Our final trip was back to Bayshore, New York. Here we packed and prepared to return home to the UK by boat on the QM2. It’s a seven-day trip and we call it our ‘digital detox week’. No cell phones or computers for a whole week. I took a watercolour art class, played hours of games with my family, watched some musicals, danced with my mum to 80’s music, ate too much and enjoyed the Atlantic Ocean.
It is a bit cliché, but I feel like this summer has completely changed me. This whirlwind, richly diverse summer of experiences has impacted me to the core — my eyes have been opened to the world we live in and my place in it. I am more conscious of my privilege and what is really important in life. I worked hard to earn the scholarships for these camps, including multiple interviews for months before. The hard work was worth it; I craved diverse, stimulating, challenging experiences and this summer delivered. I am grateful for the opportunity, and eager to do it again!