Venice High School student Amanda Jacobson has received an AFS Awards for Excellence scholarship, a distinction shared by only 120 students nationwide, according to AFS.

Jacobson will receive a $1,000 scholarship to study with AFS in Costa Rica, where she will gain firsthand knowledge of what it is like to live as a member of a family, school and community in another culture.

More than 1,200 students were nominated for the program, sponsored by AFS Intercultural Programs/USA.

AFS-USA works toward a more just and peaceful world by providing international and intercultural learning experiences to individuals, families, schools and communities through a global volunteer partnership.

Scholarships are awarded based on leadership skills, service to the community, academic excellence and ambassadorial spirit, and reflect the AFS-USA commitment to making its student exchange programs available to the best and the brightest students, irrespective of financial ability, AFS officials said.

Scholarship judges said they were impressed by Jacobsonís work with Model United Nations and her work helping younger students write and produce plays, according to AFS. She was nominated by Janice Davis, principal at Venice High School.

“Study abroad experiences help to prepare students for living and working in an increasingly global society,” said Tracy Winters, director of admissions for AFS-USA. “This year, we had one of the most accomplished groups of candidates we have seen in the programís history. We are pleased that so many high schools chose to nominate their students.

“These young people will return from their experiences having learned more about the world and their place in it, and they will contribute to life in their schools and communities in ways that will build bridges of intercultural understanding.”

This yearís Awards for Excellence scholarships, totaling nearly $200,000, provide the recipients with the opportunity to study abroad in more than 40 countries around the world, such as Japan, Chile, Belgium and Turkey.

The scholarship program, now in its ninth year, is designed to increase awareness of the importance of student exchange and intercultural skills as part of a sound secondary education.

Nominations for the 2008 AFS Awards for Excellence scholarship program are currently being accepted for programs departing in summer 2008 and winter 2009.

Each year, AFS awards more than $1.5 million in scholarships and financial aid to help make it possible for students to study abroad.

AFS officials said the organization also makes it possible for all kinds of families in the United States to have international experiences by hosting outstanding students and teachers from abroad.

For information about AFS scholarships, financial aid, study abroad programs, or on how to host an AFS student from another country or volunteer opportunities, (800) 237-4636 (800-AFS-INFO) or,