From my High School yearbook
I was an exchange student in Ticonderoga, NY in 1988-89 as a senior in High school. It was basically to learn better English and to get an opportunity to have a year "off" before starting to work or continue with university studies.
Once upon this time, I also got to be part of a beauty pageant in Ticonderoga, NY. It was so much more than that, though. It was a talent competition, a group of dedicated seventeen year old girls bringing forth our scholastic abilities as well as putting on a good show that we rehearsed for together the whole fall. It was the first time I danced solo (jazz dance in black and red leotard) to my own routine which I made to the song "The time of my life". I had just hoped for one of the smaller awards but I was chosen 2nd runner-up, well aware of that I wasn't allowed to win since I wasn't American, I was told. I was really grateful for my trophy!
At our graduation day at Ticonderoga Senior High school, upstate NY, class of '89, I also got to hold a speech in front of everybody, not as a Valedictorian but to share my gratitude for being the first exchange student ever there in 1988-89 together with a Spanish girl, but not the last one! My Swedish mother and my brother came to be part of the last week with both my host-families, since I had to change after Christmas. I was also part of many extra-curricular activities such as singing in the choir and writing for the yearbook.
Now, more than two decades later, I have reconnected with some of my former classmates from Ticonderoga, NY and learned how they became inspired to travel and live abroad too for a while. And my former English teacher was the one who gave me a letter of recommendation for my university studies in Honolulu and a note about me as an Alumni in the local paper in 2010.