I took at least one morning and afternoon Bright Lights class every summer from Kindergarten through high school. My mom works at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln so she was always very interested in having me and my sisters get different educational experiences, and she specifically encouraged us to take Bright Lights classes. She would give us the class list—without any restrictions—and let us run with it. I loved how she did this because it let me pursue a passion, something I wanted to learn about just for the purpose of learning. I took classes on photography, bees, the ocean, ancient Egypt, jewelry design, screen printing, Harry Potter and more.
When I was about 10 I was shocked to find out that Bright Lights wasn’t available to students everywhere. I felt so bad for kids who didn’t have the opportunity of these classes because I have so many great memories from them. One of my favorites is from the photography class I took. I expected to learn about photography (which I did and loved) but the class was part of Bright Lights International Experience so I also learned about origami and how to use chopsticks from the Japanese students I was in class with. (And whenever we go out for sushi I still tease my sister that I know how to use chopsticks and she doesn’t!) I even still have the gifts the Japanese students gave us at the end of our class.
I am currently an education major at Drake University and I think my Bright Lights experience played a big part in directing me toward this career choice. It taught me to love learning about all kinds of different things. And I’ve chosen to get endorsements in Spanish and English as a Second Language (ESL)—and I credit my experience with the International Program for sparking my passion of teaching ESL.
Thank you to everyone who makes this program possible! It has enriched my life and I’m sure countless others as well.