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Kerry Silver - 1988-89

AFS student: visitor from ‘Down Under’
By Andi Blaustein

For Australian AFS student Kerry Silver, travel is empowerment.

It’s not just dropping names of exotic, foreign places and watching people’s eyes widen. It’s encountering a new culture and proving capable of dealing with the situations it provides. But before Kerry could prove herself she had to work to get here. She considers this one success in a line of many more to come.

To travel to a foreign country, AFS candidates must meet numerous requirements. First they’re interviewed by a panel of five judges, and then attend a two-day camp where they meet the judges on a more personal level. Through discussions and role-playing, candidates reveal how they would respond to different situations that might arise.
Because Kerry originally wanted to study in Japan, her interviewers asked her what she would do if she and her host family first met and realized they couldn’t speak the other’s language. She told the interviews she’d communicate by smiling. The interviewer informed her that the Japanese don’t smile.

“Well, they’re missing a lot,” she responded.

Kerry said she doubted that she’d be chosen and was so surprised upon receiving her acceptance letter that she screamed. But at that point Kerry still needed the other two requirements: money and a host family.

Kerry didn’t get the scholarship for which she applied at the Woolworth’s where she worked in her hometown of Queensland, Brisbane. But she did qualify for financial aid and unexpectedly received some money from her aunt.

Finally Kerry was told she was coming to America, but she only learned she would live with Karen and Marvin Osborne’s family, 43892 Rt. 10, four days before she left Australia.

The Osbornes received Kerry’s first letter only two days before she appeared, just in time to prepare for school.

Kerry is attending Oberlin High School as a senior along with her host sister Heather, who is a junior. The two hang out after school, talking about the teachers and teasing each other as if they’re old friends who grew up together.

“Kids are kids all over the world,” Heather said.

Kerry agreed that she didn’t expect American people or their lifestyles to be very different from what she was used to in Australia.

Although she does find some things are different. Her host mom and dad are strict about setting curfews unlike her own mom back home who expected her to be more independent.

“We’ll just retrain them,” the girls teased.

While school here has fewer rules about clothing and eating in class than her school in Australia (where everyone wears the same uniform), classes there take place outside.

In the four weeks Kerry’s been in Oberlin, the Osbornes have certainly given her a healthy dose of American culture. She’s been to Sea World, Pizza Hut, the Lake Erie Fireman’s Festival, the Lorain County Fair (where she and her host family camped for the week), and an OHS football game to hear Carrie, her other host sister, play in the marching band. She’s also been shopping and babysitting.
Kerry said that her own mom’s already telling her that she’ll be off again as soon as she returns to Australia.
She’s thinking of attending college in America but may stay in Australia for school. Right now Kerry’s still waiting until she’s home with her mom to make the decision.

“Before I wanted to be a school teacher,” she said, “but now I’m seeing that I could do a lot more.
“Someone will say, ‘Oh, you’ve traveled,’ and that’s one step up the ladder,” she said.

[Photgraph of four girls on a couch: Australian AFS student Kerry Silver, second from left, clowns around with her Oberlin host family members (l-r) Karen, Heather and Carrie Osborne. (photo by Andi Blaustein)]

Oberlin News-Tribune, Oberlin, Ohio, 
Thursday, September 15, 1988, p. 1.

Posted 16 October 2003
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