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UF student featured on MTV's 'Exiled'

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Posted: Wednesday, November 19, 2008 12:00 am

Cher Hubsher spent a week in September waking in a hut to the cries of roosters at sunrise in eastern Panama.

The 18-year-old was one of MTV's "My Super Sweet 16" alums, who were sent by their parents to locations around the world to get a taste of the not-so-sweet life on the new MTV reality show, "Exiled."

Hubsher worked as an apprentice to a 19-year-old Embera woman, Lisette, and the rest of her tribe.

The UF freshman left her comfy dorm bed and spoiled existence for sleepless nights spent on a wooden, bug-ridden floor.

"I was blown away at how insignificant things made such a difference there," Hubsher said. "Like even the dirt under my fingernails wouldn't come off, and it was so disgusting to have to eat all my food with dirty hands."

In the episode that debuted Nov. 8, Hubsher was shown accidentally knocking over a pot containing food being cooked for dinner. The episode failed to show what fell out of the pot, though.

"The episode makes it seem like I just knocked it over by carelessness," she said. "But when I saw that we were actually going to eat food that had hundreds of dead ants on it, I was so shocked that I jumped and hit the pot."

Hubsher spent her week performing various tasks for the Embera people: lugging handmade canoes up and down mountains, cutting down large palm trees for fires or hunting tools, and picking plantains for lunch.

"I counted nine blisters at one point after pulling the canoe up the mountain all day," she said. "The Embera people didn't really understand that I was working harder than I had ever worked before."

The MTV staff that accompanied Hubsher took her cell phone and wristwatch after arriving in Panama.

"I would ask the Embera what time it was, and they would tell me based on the positions of the sun and clouds," she said. "It made me see things so much differently."

For Grant Hubsher, Hubsher's older brother and a UF student, the show made him see his sister in a new light.

"My reaction was one of pride," he said. "I was proud Cher was able to overcome the adversity that was thrown at her."

In the last scene of the episode, Hubsher tearfully said goodbye while giving a silver bracelet to Lisette, her guide and main contact for the week. Upon her return to her life in Florida, Hubsher created a Web site to raise money for the Embera people.

At www.chermylove.com, Hubsher sells bracelets like the one she gave to Lisette. The majority of the profits will be given back to the Embera people, she said.

"The kids there can't even afford to go to school," Hubsher said. "Hopefully, this money will help."

Hubsher hopes to expand her Web site to include other jewelry pieces to raise money for other organizations that support orphan children or refuge funds.

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