REDDING, Conn. – Japanese is Gwyneth Nicoloro’s third language, and the Redding teenager will get a chance to practice it after winning a scholarship for a two-week trip to the country.
Nicoloro found out in June that she is one of 32 students across the United States who earned the scholarship from the Japan Foundation. The trip will allow her to learn more about the language and country she is studying as a student at the Brien McMahon High School's Global Studies program.
“I’m looking forward to learning more about the culture,” Nicoloro said of the Japan trip. But what she is really excited about is the home stay in Osaka. “You get a family experience and see what Japanese everyday life looks like.”
Nicoloro is no stranger to new cultures. She moved to the United States just three years ago from China after she was adopted as a teenager by Kathleen Heller of Redding.
Since then, she has spent three years at the Brien McMahon in Norwalk, learning Japanese as she learns English.
“I wasn’t planning on going to Brien McMahon,” Nicoloro said. She started at Joel Barlow High School but said she felt out of place. After transferring to the magnet Global Studies Program, she said it was like starting over in a new world.
Why Japanese instead of Spanish or French? She said, "Japanese is similar to Chinese,” which she already spoke and read fluently. Since she was still learning English, Nicoloro said she felt Japanese might be a safer bet.
In April, Nicoloro was approached by her teacher about applying for the Japan Foundation scholarship trip to Japan as a way to further her education of the culture and language. And after a conversation with her parents, she decided to go for it.
“She did everything right,” said Heller, from the written application to the two Skype interviews, one in English and the other in Japanese. The trip will be later this month.