By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published May 10, 2012
While other literature-minded college students may read “The Odyssey,” Emma Bush will have the opportunity to travel to the Greek Isles to explore where it took place, as well as to visit other faraway landmarks and meet people of different cultures.
Spurred by a 10th-grade pilgrimage to France with her high school choir, Bush has enrolled in a college in Europe.
The Our Lady of Mercy High School senior is heading to Lugano, Switzerland, to attend Franklin College, an American liberal arts school with a 4-year program.
“I’d be at college, I’d be studying, but I’d also be seeing the world,” she said.
A brief stay at the spiritual retreat center of the Taize community in France shaped her vision for her future.
The days at the ecumenical community revolved around talks in small groups, where the young people came to know each other, despite the language barriers.
Spanish, Portuguese, German, French and English were spoken. Conversations were flying back and forth.
Bush soaked in the atmosphere.
“There were 6,000 people from all over the world. That was cool because everybody was there for peace,” she said. “People aren’t that different. The world is accessible.”
Looking to the future, Bush hopes the international experience will serve as a springboard for a career perhaps with the government, as a translator, or as someone “bringing together different cultures and worlds.”
Bush, who is 18, has on black and green checkered sneakers and a black T-shirt with “Emma the Great” across the back. Her father, Greg, is a commercial airline pilot. Her mother, Theresa, is a stay-at-home mom and a volunteer at the school. The family lives in Newnan and attends St. Mary Magdalene Church. Another member of the family, Bush’s young brother, is to attend Our Lady of Mercy High School in the fall.
Bush has been a longtime member of OLM’s Flame Team, a student group that leads the retreats. In drama she performed as “Mrs. Potts” in the spring musical “Beauty and the Beast.” She’s a member of the school’s AMA Choir, a polyphonic and a capella choir.
Another passion for the teen is cooking. Friends, teachers and even her mother rave about her skills. She cooks at home when she has the time and recently whipped up crepes when her father had friends over. “It’s very relaxing. Especially if your brother and dad like it, it’s a hit,” she said.
She got into the hobby by preparing Mercy Meals at her parish, which involved delivering home-cooked meals to families grieving a death. Too often the families find their freezer and fridge filled with lasagna, she said, so she and her mom went beyond the tried and true to serve the families. Once, they prepared five-spice chicken and sugar snap peas with a pineapple parfait.
Scones are her cannot-fail cooking specialty.
“Everyone knows my scones. They’ve become scone snobs,” she joked about her friends.
Her advice to younger students? Bush suggests they keep an eye on homework, but remember to enjoy friends.
“Once you start slacking off, it’ll just start piling up and you won’t know what to do. Have fun. Get along with everyone. There’s no reason not to,” she said.
Bush and friends now have an eye on the calendar, when their time at the high school ends and friends disperse.
“You want to stop going to school, but at the same time, you don’t really want to leave. But then, I am going to Switzerland. I am so excited, but it is nerve-racking at the same time. You are leaving a place you’ve been at forever.”