Senior Profile: Sofia Gianino

Senior Profile: Sofia Gianino

Tara Hawkins, copy editor

For most seniors, their last year of high school is about having an easier schedule, going on a spring break trip and enjoying their final months of high school. But Sofia Gianino is spending her senior year 4,282 miles away from KHS in Rabat, Morocco.

Sofia was chosen by the US State Department to be a part of The Youth Exchange and Study Abroad program, which is run through the Kennedy-Lugar Foundation. Their goal is to improve relations between Muslims and Americans. The American students stay with host families and attend a French-speaking school with Moroccan and Sub-Saharan African students. The Americans are learning Moroccan Arabic as well as immersing themselves in the Moroccan culture.

“I’ve made a lot of friends and I’ve been able to experience a lot of really cool things like a jewelry apprenticeship,” Sofia said. “[My teacher] teaches me about Moroccan jewelry-making and how to tell the difference between real silver and fake silver and how to use a blowtorch.”

Sofia said keeping busy in Morocco leaves less time for her to miss home. Morocco is five hours ahead of St. Louis, but she uses Facebook and Skype to keep in touch with her family and friends.

“When you have a great support system, like my host family is really supportive and I love them a lot, it is easier to feel at home and easier not to think about back home because it is so far away,” Sofia said. “Of course there are some things I miss, like sometimes I wish I was at school or at a pep rally. But it’s a different life [here] and it has been really great and pretty easy to adjust for the most part.”

Sofia is unsure of her plans for next year, but has applied to several colleges in the United Kingdom. She is also considering taking a gap year from college and spending another year in Morocco.

“I would encourage people to keep an open mind and be as culturally sensitive as possible,” Sofia said.