Students often tell us that they are afraid to study or intern abroad without their friends from home. The truth is, the bonds you form abroad with others from your program can last a lifetime. Don’t believe us? Let us introduce you to the incredible story of the “CC Girls” and their recent AIFS reunion trip.
In 1972, ten young women set out to study abroad in Paris, London and Salzburg on the AIFS Comparative Cultures program. This program was designed for students who wanted to take a gap year between high school and starting college. The amazing part? Despite the twists and turns of life, these ten students have managed to stay in touch for 50 years.
In 2003, all but one of the women reunited in Boston. One of the women, Jane, commemorated the experience in an AIFS magazine.
“To see someone you love after so long a time is a wonderful thing — something to look forward to if you are young. You wonder if you will recognize one another. But after a moment of doubt, the recognition comes, and then the joy,” Jane wrote. “Our long weekend together added years to our lives, I am certain. We walked around Boston, coming together and recombining, much as we did in Europe.”
This year, all ten women gathered for another reunion trip to celebrate 50 years since they first met on their AIFS Abroad program. Here’s what they had to say about the impact of their international experience – and how their friendships formed abroad have endured half a century:
“My year abroad with AIFS gave me sisters – 9 of them – for life. 50 years. A gift of love and acceptance. Memories that make me feel like an 18 year old not a 68 year old. World expanded. Thank you to the program that opened my horizons and taught me to see other cultures.” — Shelley, Alaska
“Finding myself among a sisterhood of ten girls- first in Paris and then reconvening in London, each of us hailing from different backgrounds in various parts of the USA – changed everything. We’ve managed to stay in touch through 50 years, gathering occasionally, sometimes (such as this landmark anniversary) with all present. Yet, far or near, we have always loved and learned from one another – and as we have grown older, our bonds of friendship have grown tighter. Remarkably, none of us joined a sorority when we entered traditional college. We were, still are, and always will be, our own unique sorority. Thank you AIFS.” — Jane, Tennessee and Colorado
“As I reflect on how my AIFS studies impacted my life, I can now see a journey that began 50 years ago in Paris (1972) and brought me to this day. In this exquisite Northern California day, I am gathering with my AIFS classmates. Ten of us- all girls who have transitioned into remarkable women – first met so long ago and what was imprinted then has carried on with love, friendship, support and the deepest of regard for our memories, joy and growth.” — Karen, Southern California
Freedom. Transformational. Confidence. Joy. Sisters. Friendships.
These are just some of the words these incredible women chose to sum up the impact of their AIFS study abroad experience. Sound amazing? That’s because it is! Although the Comparative Cultures program is no longer running, AIFS Study + Travel programs offer you the chance to explore multiple destinations abroad while focusing on one course. Explore the world, become more independent and form bonds that could last a lifetime!