Teen hopes to travel to Europe as ambassador

Published 9:37 am Saturday, December 26, 2009

FRANKLIN—If all goes as planned, 15-year-old Justin Sumblin of Southampton County will be traveling around Europe, visiting France and Italy, next summer with the People to People Ambassador Program.

According to its Web site, People to People Ambassador Programs has been the exclusive educational travel provider for People to People International, a nonprofit organization founded by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 to promote peace through face-to-face interaction by ordinary citizens around the world.

“I just can’t wait,” he said. However, the trip wouldn’t be Justin’s first international voyage. When he was just 11, Justin traveled to Australia with the same program.

“It was really fun, going up and down the eastern part of the continent,” he said. Justin said he received a letter from the organization in 2005 stating that he had been recommended and was accepted to go to Australia.

Justin’s mother, Lynnora Sumblin, said she saw positive changes when he returned from the first trip.

“I could tell when he got back that he was more responsible,” she said. Sumblin also said her son started looking at things more broadly.

“It helps with meeting new people and then dealing with problems around the world,” Justin said. “You get to experience another person’s viewpoint.”

Justin’s family recently kicked off a fundraising effort to help cover the $7,689 price tag for the trip. They sold $5 raffle tickets for a 32-inch digital television. Family members gathered last Monday at the Ruth Camp Campbell Memorial Library in Franklin, where Justin works part-time as a page, to draw the winning ticket. They said the raffle raised $1,000 toward the trip.

The family plans to hold other fundraisers, possibly a fish fry, in the future. They are also seeking sponsorships from businesses and other organizations.

Justin, a 10th grader at the Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for the Arts and Technology in Petersburg, hopes to pursue a career in musical theater as a film and television actor.

Sumblin said the trip also allows Justin to experience things he is learning about in school first-hand.

“When you get to travel all over the world…you get to see history come alive,” she said. “It gives me a good feeling.”

Justin and his mother said they’re thankful for the support of the community, as well as their family, especially considering the current recession.

“I want to thank the community and everyone who’s put in,” Justin said.

Anyone interested in sponsoring Justin can contact Lynnora Sumblin at 562-2286.