Jack Study Abroad Trip to Japan

My name is Jack Roberts, I am 16 years old, and I am a Junior at Grapevine High School.  

I am seeking help with funding my dream of living in Japan for a year through the AFS study-abroad organization. I am already fully approved by both AFS-US and AFS-Japan, so raising the funds is the final step. If I succeed to raise enough money, I will leave for Japan on March 18, 2018 to study at a Japanese high school while living with a Japanese host family for a full year!

About me
I am the oldest of four and have lived in the same, roughly-thirty-mile radius in Texas my whole life. I find myself to be studious and pragmatic, but my hobbies wouldn't really let that on at a first glance.

My main hobby is skateboarding. While it is fun and at times exhilerating, it involves skill development that offers cycles of never ending improvement. My gradual self betterment each day makes skateboarding a very fulfilling hobby.

Interesting enough, rapid skill development through deep, deliberate practice is at the core of all my hobbies.  For instance, playing the piano allows me to experience this quick improvement, often on a daily basis. I feel that the motivation I find for perfecting a piano piece also stems from being self-taught. Other activities in which I have acquired advanced skills over time include uni-cycling, yo-yoing, speed-cubing, coin magic, and paper art--all hobbies that involve developing or honing in skill very quickly through constant, measurable improvement.

I also enjoy working with my hands and have recently started to make skateboards. The process of making one is quite intricate and involves the layering of several sheets of maple wood and shaping the wood in a mold. My dream is to ultimately have a small business on the side selling skateboards.

Why I want to go abroad
In the beginning of 2017 I became interested in the Japanese language and started studying it in my downtime. I then learned more about the culture and history of Japan and became fascinated with the country. Eventually I decided to apply to study in Japan for a year.

Initially, I didn't think too much of it: Just experience something completely alien and learn a new language. However, my motivation to study abroad has deepened  as I have begun to understand more and more about the inner workings of human interactions. I realized that this completely alien experience isn't just a time to enjoy or a story to tell later down the road, but it is a means to a further understanding: The understanding of another way of life in a completely different setting and, perhaps ultimately, an understanding of the underlying commonalities of the human race.

There is a third angle: My family and I have gone through some traumatic events the last two years, which caused severe challenges and hardship from which we are still trying to recover. Without going into too much detail, my dad nearly died and was incapacitated for about a year, my mom went through serious medical issues, and my oldest sister was diagnosed with a debilitating connective tissue disorder. With these medical set-backs, my family went from very comfortable to struggling to survive financially in a very short period of time. At times it feels surreal how our situation could change so suddenly and dramatically.  I feel that stepping away from it all, may provide me with new perspectives.

In all, I believe the year in Japan could be life-changing for me from several different angles.         

I am a top 10% student with strengths in math, computer science, foreign languages, and physics. Last semester I received the Teachers' Choice Award in Physics at my high school and I am becoming more and more interested in studying physics in college.

All the AP classes I have taken over the last few years have pushed me almost three semesters ahead. In fact, after finishing the first semester of my junior year just recently, I am only one and a half credits short for graduation. This will take a lot of pressure off while in Japan. I can completely focus on learning the Japanese language and integrating in the Japanese culture.

Fundraise efforts
For my year in Japan, AFS charges $15,000 and I have exactly two months left to collect these funds. I already applied for several scholarships and was awarded two signifianct ones. In addition, I am working more hours at my job at Braums. The scholarships and my job are projected to cover about half of the cost, hence my goal of raising the additional $7,500 through GoFundMe.

The full amount of $15,000 is due in February and if I succeed in collecting enough funds, I will leave for Japan on March 18, 2018!

With each gracious donation, I become closer to achieving my goal of studying abroad in Japan for a year, and for that I am ineffably grateful. With your help, I can both make my dream attainable and become a true global citizen. Please help me realize this life-changing experience. Thank you so much!

Me Jumping of a cliff at Jacob's Well in Wimberley, TX. Hoping my next jump will be into a bigger world with broader perspectives.
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Marieke Mastebroek 
Grapevine, TX
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