Scholar Reflection on a Summer Abroad

Chicago is a city rich with culture and diversity, but nothing compares to immersing oneself directly in the culture of a city across the globe. Junior PEAK Scholar Mellanie did just that when she received a Crystal Charitable Fund scholarship to help finance a service trip to Paraguay this summer. The scholarship is awarded to Chicago area students in good academic standing who want to extend their academic and cultural development over the summer and beyond the classroom.

Mellanie traveled through AFS-USA, a nonprofit specializing in intercultural learning and foreign exchange programs. Check out the photos and captions she shared below from her amazing experience!

AFS volunteers are in the photos along with all the AFSers who went to Paraguay. So from left to right, Fabian (an AFS volunteer), Clarisse, myself, Maura, Olivia, Bella, Satyabhan, Miguel (an AFS volunteer), a man directing us about in this trip from the place, Sam, Trezure, and Michael. We went on our last trip to go zip-lining at El reserva Mbatovi in Paraguarí. This was taken August 6, 2016 just a couple of days before having to return home. We are all posing for a picture in front of the reserve.​

This is me with Sam, and Trezure in back of me waiting their turn to mix the ingredients. This is in class

and one of my teachers wanted to teach us how to make mbeju, a food made in Paraguay. This was

August 2, 2016 at our school Elpoligolta. I was mixing the ingredients we added into the food.

In this photo it is of me in front of a designed wall. I am posing in the oldest neighborhood of Asuncion,

Paraguay in front of this wall. San Jeronimo was the name of the neighborhood. This wall just shows the

art of the people of Paraguay. This was July 8, 2016.

In this picture there is man baking chipa a type of food also made in Paraguay. This was when we visited

Mercado 4 which is a market that is very big and sells many different things. This was July 15, 2016. So

he is just shaping the chipa and putting them on a big pan to put them soon to bake.

I am on the bottom left of this picture while my sister is the 3rd to the top in the group. This was a school

event for my sister and her friends. I was at my sisters school Cervantes and it was August 8, 2016. We

were all posing for the picture so the school can share it in the news and on social media.

In this picture from left to right is my sister; Adri Lafranconi, my mom; Roseanna Lafranconi, and lastly

me. We went to visit another city in Paraguay that is famous for their church. It was July 23, 2016 in

Caacupe, Paraguay. This church was big and it is said that the Virgin Mary had appeared near it. So it is

an important spiritual place for Catholics in Paraguay.

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