Cricket Liebermann, a 2016-2017 Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Abroad participant, has been named the January American Abroad Student of the Month. Hailing from U32 Middle and High School in Vermont, Cricket is studying abroad this year in Dakar, Senegal, and has proven herself to be an ideal exchange student.
With a passion for experiencing a new culture, a generous spirit, and a good grasp on the concept of “not good, not bad, just different,” Cricket has become a beloved member of her host community. She is always eager to learn something new about Senegal and its people, having been a part of weddings, family reunions, holidays, and funerals with her host family. This has helped her feel at home and be herself, and also allowed her to become a model of positivity. In the words of her host family, “Cricket is a generous person. She makes cookies and crepes for the family. Everyone loves her in the extended family and would like to invite her to their home.”
It is not just her host family that is impressed with Cricket, however. Teachers and school staff have expressed how much they love her attitude. Receiving the highest grades in her class, Cricket is excelling not only socially, but also academically. Cricket participates in the Senegalese American Bilingual School’s (SABS) softball team and is a member of SABS African Dance Ballet club. She also finds time to volunteer each week at the Columbin Center, which supports deaf students in Dakar. At the center she works with students to create mosaic pottery handicrafts that are then sold in order to raise funds to support the organization.
During International Education Week, Cricket gave presentations both at her school and at public schools around Dakar. She hosted a memorable Thanksgiving dinner for YES Abroad host families and participated in a Thanksgiving dinner organized by YES inbound alumni. She also baked cookies for a Thanksgiving dinner at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence. From March 25th to April 9th, Cricket will be a volunteer tutor at the Senegal English Language Preparation Camp, which helps Senegalese finalists for the YES program improve their English skills before they come to the U.S.
Cricket is making the most of her time abroad, and her giving spirit has made the experience memorable for her host community.