Six students from Queen Anne’s and Easton High Schools recently returned from a trip to Europe as part of the People to People Student Ambassador Program. Their European Heritage trip gave them insight on how people live in other parts of the world. The students went overseas June 26th- July 15th with a group totaling 47 ambassadors from up and down the East Coast. Susan Walsh and Pam Kidwell were among the delegation leaders and served as chaperones for students from the surrounding Eastern Shore areas.
The four students from Queen Anne’s County High were: Simone Goodman, 16 of Centreville, Sam Hokuf, 16 of Sudlersville, Latia Lewis, 16 of Sudlersville, and Kelsi Ronning, 16 of Queenstown. Representing Easton High School were Courtney Sturgill, 15 of Cordova, and Nolan Muganda, 15 of Easton. Simone, Sam, Latia, Kelsi and Courtney will be juniors and Nolan will be a sophomore in the fall.
As part of their journey, the student ambassadors visited England, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland. The students stayed in hotels for many of their nights but also made friends with German host families during a three day home stay.
“Being given the opportunity to stay with a German family was probably the most exciting thing about the trip”, says Courtney. “It gave us insight into a completely different culture and we made new friends that we will remember for years to come.”
Simone said, “I enjoyed going to the top of the Eiffel Tower and seeing all of Paris. I also loved staying with a family from Germany for three nights. I learned a lot from them and was able to experience their everyday life, instead of just being a tourist.”
Other exciting adventures included: Seeing the Olympic Rings on the Tower Bridge in London, riding The London Eye, seeing Big Ben, meeting with a member of the British Parliament, seeing a live performance of Wicked in a theater in the West End, visiting The Eiffel Tower, visiting the Anne Frank House, watching how Belgium Chocolate was made, tracing heroic footsteps along the beaches of Normandy, going behind the scenes to explore European cathedrals and mysterious castles, seeing how Cuckoo Clocks are made, challenging white- water rafting through the beautiful gorges in Scuol, Switzerland as well as many historic sites.
Latia’s favorite part of the journey was, “visiting the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. Experiencing firsthand the hardships of being Jewish during the holocaust reinforced my belief of how important it is to have the People to People Ambassador Programs to achieve peace through understanding.”
Sam stated, “It was the best trip I’ve ever been on. I learned so much seeing things I’ll probably never see again. The best part was seeing Normandy Beach because I like that kind of stuff so being there made it more real to me. Also the Swiss Alps were really pretty and I would love to go back to see them again.”
Kelsi said, “I enjoyed going to Paris, France and seeing the Eiffel Tower. It was nothing like I could have ever imagined. I also really enjoyed going white water rafting in the Swiss Alps, although the water was freezing cold. I just jumped in and swam.”
The People to People International Student Ambassador Program was founded by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956, and since then, students have visited 40 countries on seven continents. People to People describes itself as an organization aiming “to enhance international understanding and friendship through educational, cultural and humanitarian activities involving the exchange of ideas and experiences directly among peoples of different countries and diverse cultures.”
Nolan said, “The trip to Europe is and will most likely remain one of my highlights. I enjoyed every moment of the trip: from the home stays, to the new friends, to the Eiffel tower, to the drama, to white water rafting. The German family I stayed with was incredibly awesome and hospitable. By far the best part was waking up with people who I’ve grown close and living with each other. Even though it was less than a month, these bonds will last a lifetime. I’d definitely recommend this trip to anyone who’s on the borderline of going and not going. It’ll change your life for the better.”
Students are nominated for the program and if they’re picked, they raise funds for their travel through sponsorships and family donations. Information on the Students Ambassador Program and other trips are available online: www.studentambassadors.org.
“Ambassador Programs are important because they promote peace and understanding between countries” says Courtney.
In photo: The 6 local ambassadors on a riverboat on The Rhine River while in Germany. This was definitely a trip of a lifetime for these high school students. Standing in the back: Sam Hokuf and Nolan Magunda; Front: Latia Lewis, Kelsi Ronning, Courtney Sturgill and Simone Goodman