In 1990 I was given the opportunity to explore Washington, D.C. and several countries in Europe while in high school through People to People. This adventure lasted four weeks providing a lifetime experience I cherish to this day. My oldest daughter now has this opportunity for 2014. This is very exciting to have an idea what she is going to experience having gone through this process when I was her age and now being able to go through it as a parent. Often the thought of how this was for my parents comes up as we plan for her to travel. My travels took me to Austria, Hungary, what was Lvov in the USSR but is currently in the Ukraine, Poland, Czechoslovakia, East and West Germany at the time but is just Germany now. My daughter’s itinerary includes: England, France, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Austria, and Switzerland.
Comparisons between my experience and hers are constant. I can’t believe how much has changed. One of the big differences has been in safety. During my adventure we had some down time to explore on our own which provided some of the most memorable portions of the trip. It was during these times we really got to know the people we traveled with and explored the current location. One such memory was being in Wurzburg, Germany when they won the World Cup and observing the celebrations that continued all night long. Such a sense of pride and excitement. During these down times that we really had the opportunity to interact with local people and figuring out how to communicate when English was not spoken. Great Fun and very educational! These down times appear to be quite limited now which helps ease my mind with my daughter’s safety but I know this will also change her experience.
Also meeting the other delegates is a little different. During my trip I didn’t really get a chance to meet the others going until sitting on the airplane taking off for Washington, D.C. Now they have the chance to talk with each other during each meeting to discuss trip expectations. There will be 5 or 6 of these meetings so they will be familiar with most of the other delegates before going. That takes some of the excitement and nervousness out of this trip. It’s probably a good idea. I just remember needing to work on my interactive skills immediately in order to learn about those I was traveling with. In that instance, it didn’t really matter where each of us lived, where we went to school, or what grade we were in. We were all on summer break and traveling to Europe. The preparational meetings happen during the winter when school is a large part of life. Hopefully this won’t interfere with how the student ambassadors interact during their summer adventure.
While getting ready for this experience for my daughter, I’ve been going through the items I’ve kept from mine which has also been fun. I’ll cover some of these in the Memorabilia.