V’ville student will forgo graduation in favor of trip of a lifetime

Go East, young woman: While classmates of Sarah Bracken, a senior from Voorheesville’s high school, are receiving their diplomas in June, Bracken will be halfway around the world.

VOORHEESVILLE — Learning-by-doing: it’s the best way to learn a skilled trade, like electrical or plumbing, and, for Sarah Bracken, it’s also how she plans to solve the world’s problems.

Bracken, a senior at Clayton A. Bouton High School, plans to major in international relations next year at one of the 13 colleges she’s applied to. But first, she’s getting some hands-on experience in diplomacy.

This summer, Bracken will be traveling to Japan as a member of K Corps, an exchange program for members of Key Club, the youth arm of Kiwanis, the international volunteer service organization.

While there, she will be staying with a Kiwanis-member host family, learning about Japanese culture and history. During her visit, Bracken will be working on one or more service projects. She said that may include reading to preschoolers, planting trees, or working with other service organizations. Last year, K Corps members painted a mural.

The process of selection involved a letter-of-interest from Bracken, where she explained why she wanted to go to Japan; a letter to her host family, about her own family and interests; and a personal essay about why she should be chosen. She was chosen along with six other Key Club members from across the country out of a possible 15 who applied.

Bracken first became interested in international relations because of her involvement with the school’s Model United Nations Club. She said that she is interested in researching how countries interact with one another, and how one country’s decision-making can have global implications.

She is fascinated by Japan’s culture and history; and, how, for hundreds of years — known as the Edo period, which lasted from 1603 to 1868 —the island nation was isolated from the rest of the world. During that time, the country developed its own culture and customs unique from the rest of the world.

The opportunity of a lifetime has its downside.

Bracken will be missing her high school graduation. And, while graduating is an important milestone in a person’s life, after discussion with her family, she decided that this opportunity is too important to give up.

She said she’s kind of bummed about missing graduation, and, obviously, would like to see all her friends one last time, but there’s that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity across the Pacific.

Then there’s the other problem — paying for it.

It’s going to cost $5,000 to get there, she said. Kiwanis International has kicked in $1,000, and the New Scotland Kiwanis will be donating as well, as will the school’s Key Club, and the club’s  supervisor, Michelle Bintz.

“Every little bit helps; and, takes the burden off of her family,” Bintz said.

Anybody willing to help, may contact Bracken at: sarah.r.bracken@gmail.com.


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