Hi everyone! My name is Henry Slater and I’m 19. I’ve always been on the older end at school (I was born in June 1998), and I’ll be 20 once I start college. At first, this was a reservation for me when thinking about applying for Bridge Year because I felt strange about being older than I already was. I talked to a past Senegal Bridge Year participant and he told me that it really didn’t matter. He said that in his sophomore dorm, there was a range of students from 17 to 21 but they all just chilled and age wasn’t important. So that’s good.
On to more biographical details, I was born in Tokyo, Japan and have never lived anywhere else. I went to Japanese preschool and kindergarten, so when I was a toddler, I grew up speaking both English (my parents are American) and Japanese. Now I speak English better because I’ve been at international school since I was 6 and the primary language of instruction is English. Following in my mom and sister’s footsteps, I began studying French in middle school and spent 2 high school summers in France to learn more. I also started Mandarin Chinese in freshman year of high school. As you can probably tell by now, I love languages. I love learning them and speaking them and everything about them. I think they can make a person seem super cool, too. Even though I’ve been raised in a multicultural environment, I see the next 9 months as a chance for me to add more cultures and languages to my life and I’m really excited, especially because I get to do it while becoming closer with the other 6 students!
Some people wonder if I know many or any American things because I’ve lived in Japan my whole life. Since I was a baby, I’ve been going to the States at least once or twice a year and I have family in Boston, Chicago, Santa Fe, and the San Francisco Bay Area (my favorite part of the U.S.). I watch lots of American TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Law and Order: SVU, too. Having said that, I still feel culture shock being in America. In a way, I feel most comfortable when I’m initially uncomfortable, when I have to navigate my way through unfamiliar situations. I imagine both Senegal and my four years in the States after that will be full of learning experiences.
I can’t wait to get to know all of you!