FORT WAYNE – Let’s just say that Anson Kiraly is not your typical 17-year-old with a smartphone.
When he got his, the Snider High School junior didn’t start hunting around for Angry Birds game apps.
Nope, he started looking for foreign-language dictionaries.
I’ve got a bunch, he said, pointing to icons on his screen for dictionaries in French, Chinese, Hungarian, Arabic, German, Danish and even Old English.
When I got a smartphone, first thing I did was to go find a bunch of dictionaries.
A self-confessed language geek who has studied five, Kiraly felt right at home Saturday at the third annual International Youth Exchange Expo at IPFW’s Walb Student Union.
The event was designed to encourage area high school students to participate in international exchange programs.
Dick Conklin of Fort Wayne, representing Fort Wayne Rotary Clubs, an event co-sponsor, said the reasons to study abroad go beyond cultural curiosity – although that reason is perfectly good enough. It’s an experience that will change your life forever, personally and academically, he said.
And, with a rapidly globalizing economy, the ability to speak a different language and relate to a different culture can be a ticket to a great job.
These kinds of experiences are what’s needed in today’s world, Conklin said. That’s where so many of the careers are.
Representatives of several local companies were at the event promoting their international ties.
They included Franklin Electric, in the process of relocating from Bluffton to Fort Wayne and whose business is about 60 percent international; Whiteshire Hamroc of Decatur, which sells pigs and breeding material to countries such as Japan, South Korea and China where pork is a menu mainstay; and Wieland Furniture of Grabill, a niche furniture-maker that sells internationally to hospitals and medical clinics.
Ivy Tech representative Martha Martin was promoting that school’s study-abroad programs in countries including Costa Rica, Belize, Ireland, France and England. Allen County 4-H Club was promoting both a visit by Polish exchange students this summer and a trip to Poland in 2014.
There was also a booth from the Hefner Trust, which provides financial aid for travel and study abroad. There’s no reason a student who has the dream of doing this can’t do it, Conklin said.
Josh Kellenberger, 30, a teacher of German at Snider High School, attended with several of his students, including Kiraly, Matt Phillips and Tanner Luffman.
Luffman and Phillips are part of group that will be going to Krefeld, Germany, in June, staying there for a month.
Both think they would like to use the language in their careers – Phillips possibly as an engineer and Luffman in medicine. Luffman said he has an interest in hemopathology, a field that includes diseases such as leukemia and hemophilia.
But both are looking forward to bettering their language skills.
We’re supposed to be in total language immersion, Luffman said, and that’s what I want.