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Studying abroad lets Pine-Richland junior mix love of travel with learning

| Tuesday, July 7, 2015, 10:15 a.m.
Noah Adams
Noah Adams
Noah Adams
Noah Adams

Even with school on summer break, Noah Adams is finding ways to stay busy.

After returning home from a student council conference in Albuquerque, N.M. on June 28, he set off for Russia on June 30 with the a group of his peers to document and catalogue indigenous cultures there as part of AFS Project: Change.

Adams, 16, a junior at Pine-Richland High School, entered the AFS Project: Change contest last winter. Students submitted a short video or essay describing a community service-project they'd like to complete in another country.

As a vegan, Adams entered the competition with the idea of raising awareness about the benefits of natural remedies and vegetable consumption with plants local to that area.

Although his project did not win, he was one of the top-five national finalists and was selected to make the trip with the winner of the contest, Sam Harshbarger, to complete his project.

The students will go deep into Russia for two weeks and investigate and record indigenous cultures through first-person interviews, which will be catalogued on a website Harshbarger created.

“A lot of people find it can be hard to get away from the main tourist areas just because of our relationship with Russia, but we'll be in the heart of Russia and experience life in their homes,” Adams said.

“I think it'll be really interesting to get a take on Russia that most people today would not have.”

Adams also is going to study abroad in Germany for 10 months through the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange program funded by the United States and German governments.

He'll leave at the beginning of September and spend his junior year in Germany learning about their culture and government while teaching others about American culture.

Adams is not the first Pine-Richland student to take advantage of this fully funded program. Last year, Pine-Richland senior Kiel Hillock left for Germany as part of the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange and will return home sometime in July.

Adams said he has been taking German in school and knows enough to converse.

He has been trying to learn Russian through an application called “Memrise.”

He said he loves to travel because it's fun, but in the long term, he hopes to inspire other students to broaden their learning experiences and take advantage of the scholarship opportunities available to them, as he has.

“The world is becoming such a global civilization, and if you isolate yourself, you can be limiting your education,” he said. “And I think that a lot of people just feel like studying abroad might not be accessible to them. But I really tried to show people that it might be possible and that you can find all these opportunities out there.”

His mother, Sue Adams, said she never has been nervous about him traveling so much, although she is a bit apprehensive about giving up her only child for a year when he leaves for Germany.

“He's going to see some amazing things that a lot of westerners don't get to see,” she said about his trip to Russia. “I think it will broaden his world knowledge, and from what I know, he'll see a lot of poverty, which we don't see a lot of in the North Hills of Pittsburgh. I think it's important for us to be aware of how privileged we are.”

Because Adams will be gone for the school year, his parents decided to host a student of their own for a semester through AFS. Sue Adams said they will host a student from Austria beginning in August.

Because both of their son's travel opportunities have been fully funded, Sue Adams said, they wanted to be sure to give back to the youth-exchange community by hosting a student

To learn more about AFS Project: Change, go to

Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or

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