JEFFERSON-Most high schoolers spend their summer breaks hitting the river or dipping their toes into the work world.
Ashe County High School’s Elan Turner, however, will spend his summer a third of the way around the world.
A rising senior at ACHS, Turner was recently selected as one of handful of students who will spend the second half of their summer break in India as part of a leadership summit.
That’s according to ACHS Counselor Annette Bednosky, who said Turner was one of just 20 students – out of more than 100 applicants – selected to take part in the summer program, part of 360+ Leadership Collective.
“Earlier this year they were looking for…students to go to India and have a cultural immersion, learn about sustainability and environmental aspects, and they chose two groups,” Bednosky said. “Eight American students in each group and two Indian students in each group. (Elan) is…going to be an ambassador spending a few days in Florida and three weeks in India, representing himself and us.”
According to the program’s website, Leadership Collective is a three week, fully-funded experiential learning trip to India.
“The trip is immersive, pushing students out of their comfort zones, challenging students to make new friends from across the U.S. and India, and learn about the diversity and complexity of India in a hands-on, service oriented way,” according to the program. “By removing the financial barriers to travel we strive to diversify study abroad while providing high quality, hands on educational programming.”
Turner said he learned of the opportunity through Upward Bound, a program aimed at getting students like Turner ready to attend and graduate from a college or university.
“I guess I applied almost on a whim in mid-January,” Turner said. “I was looking into studying abroad and this really just appealed to me. I thought it was a great opportunity.”
But the three week trip won’t exactly be a getaway vacation. This year’s effort is aimed at studying climate change on the Indian subcontinent.
“It’s exciting to know that we’re going to help with a couple of climate change experiments through the program,” Turner said.
He said he’s had to focus on studying different aspects of climate change – like developing a nuts and bolts understanding of the carbon cycle and understanding the impact of climate change on the world’s glaciers – since being accepted into the summer program.
But mostly, Turner said he’s preparing to immerse himself in the Indian culture and get the most from his three week summer stay.
“This is something I’ve always dreamed of doing, getting away and learning about a completely different culture,” Turner said. “And if I can bring a little bit of that back, maybe come back more open minded and help teach our community what’s happening somewhere else, it’ll be worth it to me.”
Reach Adam Orr at 336-489-3058.