Julian Crocker introduced our speaker, Brina Latham, a junior at Coast Union High School who will be participating in the AFS Student Exchange Program this coming semester. Julian explained that AFS Intercultural Programs began as the American Field Service (AFS), which was formed in 1915. Shortly after the outbreak of World War I, young Americans living in Paris volunteered as ambulance drivers at the American Ambulance Hospital of Paris.

Brina told us that she would be spending the first semester studying in
France. She has always been interested in other cultures and wanted to be able to
immerse herself in the French culture. She selected France because it is a very open
minded country, it is beautiful, as is it’s language. She also told us she has a passion for art,
especially French art. She is excited to see the different forms and expressions of their art.
Her goal is to experience as much as she can and share what she learns when she returns
home. Brina did not study French in school but has learned the language on her own. She
also had to double up on classes here since she will only be taking electives during her semester abroad.

There is a lot of paperwork involved just in order to be accepted into the AFS Program. Her mom, Michele, who encouraged her was so proud when she was accepted. She had to raise $16,000 in order to cover the expenses involved. She started a Go Fund Me Page and held a fundraiser at the Vet’s Hall.

She will be staying with a host family in a town smaller than Cambria. The family consists of the parents and their young son and daughter. The family enjoys travel so Brina is hoping to see as much of France as possible during her stay. She has been communicating with the host family, who have sent her a number of photos.

Dennis White told us that between AFS and Rotary, 20,000 students have been sponsored to study abroad. He then introduced Sharon Bisso who has been spearheading the AFS Program for Cambria and Cayucos students. Sharon told us that she has worked with some amazing students

over the years, working closely with Marcia Hilger. She retired in 2007 from her job as an English teacher at CUHS but has continued her involvement in AFS. She is
now working with 2 students who want to go to Japan.

Our Community Service Committee was pleased to present Brina with a check for $500 to help her with her expenses while overseas. We hope she will come back to tell us all about her adventures.