Back to
Photo by Elke Schmidt, Senegal Bridge Year Program.

Introduction Letter

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!