Essay contest winner goes to China on scholarship

Concord High School student Jennifer Myers is across the world this week, taking in the sights and experiencing Chinese culture.

The 16-year-old rising senior left last week to travel across China on a trip funded by an Education First Global Citizen scholarship, which pays for students to go on an international trip to introduce them to other cultures and lifestyles.

To apply, Jennifer wrote an essay on how 10 days in China would impact her life.

"Meeting these international students would allow me the opportunity to learn of cultures in other countries and how these differences have altered each individual's life style from the type I am accustomed to," wrote Jennifer in her essay.

When she submitted her essay, she never expected to actually win, she said. Jennifer learned that she had received the scholarship on April 1 - April Fool's Day.

"I was kind of skeptical," she said. "I didn't know if it was some really cruel joke or if it was for real."

It was for real, and now she's on a 10-day, all-expense paid trip to Shanghai, Beijing and Hangzhou.

Out of hundreds of applicants, 10 students from the U.S. and 10 students from India received the scholarship. On their trip, students will do some sightseeing, visit Chinese schools and meet Chinese pen pals that they will stay in touch with after they return home.

Jennifer, who hopes to become a teacher, is particularly excited about visiting Chinese schools.

"It'll open me up to a different way of teaching," she said.

It was one of her teachers at Concord High School who encouraged her to apply.

A native of Kenya, Chemisi Kogo-Masila has been teaching in Concord for four years. She participates in the Visiting International Faculty program, which sends teachers across the globe to learn about other cultures.

"I've learned about American culture and learned how it's different from my culture," she said. "It's made me appreciate the differences. It makes me grow as a teacher."

She said she hopes Jennifer's experience in China will allow her to embrace other cultures and learn about how others live.

"It will open her mind," she said.

Jennifer is active in Concord High School's theater program and the school's literary magazine. She's also a member of the National Honor Society and was a junior marshal. She is the daughter of Barry and Lynn Myers of Concord.