He’s bound for London, Paris

Published 11:55 am Saturday, May 8, 2010

I would like to share a little about the People to People Student Ambassador program that I will be attending this summer.

I received a letter last summer informing me that I was unanimously nominated to be included with a select few students in the fifth and sixth grades in the Tidewater region for this Ambassador Program based on academics. I went to an information session with my parents and got to see videos and Ambassador student alumni talk about their experiences. I was really excited.

My parents and I talked and decided this would be a great opportunity. I would then need to go through an interviewing process, and only 42 fifth- and sixth-grade students in the Tidewater area were going to be chosen. I found out after the interviewing session that I was one of the 42.

Since that time I have met every month in Hampton to hand in homework (yes, homework that we do online and while in our two-hour class). So, it’s not all about just having fun and traveling; there is a lot of research and studying going on so that we will know about the other cultures before we get there.

People to People was founded in 1956 by President Dwight Eisenhower, who had a belief that direct interaction between ordinary citizens around the world can promote cultural understanding and world peace. People to People is a global educational travel provider that includes seven continents. It organizes and promotes opportunities for bridging cultural and political borders through direct interaction, unparalleled access and unique experiences.

The Student Ambassador program provides these opportunities for students in grades 5-12. High school students can earn credits for high school and college education. Once selected I will be able to travel annually with the program. This program will offer me the opportunity to experience new cultures and create connections globally.

My program is called the Tale of Two Cities, which includes London and Paris. I will have an official briefing in London with a current or former member of Parliament and dine in a medieval encampment and learn defensive arts as an honorary knight of Warwick Castle.

I will also be learning about World War II history, medieval history, international politics and government, and intercultural studies.

Some of my activities include experiencing England’s royal history at Warwick Castle and Tower of London; visiting the Louvre Museum; going to the beaches of Normandy to understand the life of a soldier; going to a Shakespeare workshop; and participating in a local service project in cooperation with the hosting community. I will also be going to the palaces and gardens of Versailles, kayaking on a British river, going underground into England’s World War II command center, and visiting Stonehenge.

The dates for my trip are June 23-July 5. I am looking forward to my trip and really appreciate being able to share my information. Since the trip is paid by each ambassador’s family I would greatly appreciate any donations provided to offset the total cost.