• Estella Dieci
  • Atlanta International School, senior
Estella Dieci

Estella Dieci’s father is from Rome, Italy, and her mother is from Albuquerque, N.M., but she grew up surrounded by Chinese culture and language.

“My dad works at Georgia Tech and we have a lot of Chinese friends,” Estella said. “I always wanted to learn Chinese.”

Now a senior at the Atlanta International School (AIS), Estella first traveled to China after her sophomore year at North Atlanta High School. Through an organization called Americans Promoting Study Abroad (APSA), Estella and 60 other public high school students were given the opportunity to participate in an intensive immersion program in Beijing.

This past summer, Estella won AIS’s Educational Advancement Legacy Scholarship to travel to study in China once more, this time for five weeks.

While her father worked at Jilin University in Changchun, Estella studied Chinese with a tutor from the University. Estella said that her tutor, who is a postgraduate student in English linguistics, became a friend and, now, a pen pal.

“One day I taught her how to make pasta and she taught me how to make dumplings,” Estella said. “That was a really fun experience.”

She also visited Changbai Shan, a famous glacier lake in the mountains that separate China and North Korea.

“I went on an all-Chinese tour, which was interesting,” Estella said. “It was exciting when I understood what was going on, but I didn’t always understand.”

Even though the language barrier made communication challenging at times, Estella learned a lot through her interactions with the people she met.

“Because I didn’t really go to major tourist areas, I was the first American that many people had met,” Estella said. “I felt like an ambassador for America or something — at least a representative of American culture.”

At AIS, Estella is in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. This year she is taking IB Physics, Spanish and Theory of Knowledge, among other advanced courses. Her favorite class is IB English.

Apart from academics, Estella is competing to win the Silver Award in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Young Americans Challenge. In order to get the Silver Award, participants must commit to six months of a physical activity, a skill and service. For her activity and skill, Estella chose general fitness and knitting, respectively. She volunteers as a tutor at Garden Hills Elementary School to fulfill the service requirement.

Estella also enjoys being a witness on the school’s mock trial team.

What’s Next:

Estella’s experiences in China excite her about the possibility of studying abroad in the future. She is looking mainly at instate colleges and universities.

This article was reported and written by Leighton Rowell, a North Springs Charter High graduate now studying at the University of Georgia.