Yesterday, Island Girl received a letter in the mail from the People to People organization. This is an organization that was created by President Eisenhower in 1956. President Eisenhower believed "that ordinary citizens of different nations, if able to communicate directly, would solve their differences and find a way to live in peace. In 1956, he put those beliefs into action and created People to People Ambassador Programs." He called a special White House conference of American leaders, who joined him in creating the People to People initiative. As a result, the People to People mission developed around personal exchanges and firsthand experiences with other cultures.
Each year this organization takes high school students to other parts of the world, where they learn first hand about other cultures and act as ambassadors for our country.
There are 2 ways to join this program. The first is to apply and applicants must provide reference letters and then go through an extensive interview program before they are selected. The second is through an invitation directly from People to People.
Island Girl was invited!
Basically what this means is that in the summer of 2009 she will go on a 19 day trip to Italy, Sicily and Greece. The letter says the students will
"Run in the steps of the first Olympians, explore ancient sites at the Acropolis and study Greek mythology on the Isle of Crete. See Michelangelo's works at the Sistine Chapel, discover the crossroads of ancient cultures in Italy and explore ancient Pompeii. Visit the Parthenon in Athens, the Forum in Rome and the Roman Colosseum. Bond with other delegates as they portray a citizen of ancient Rome, create a pizza in Sicily and enjoy a cruise from Italy to Greece."
This trip is fully funded by the People to People organization which means all we pay for is her spending money.
We showed her the letter and bless her heart she read it and then started to cry, saying "are you sure they want me?"
I am so blown away by this! This is a once in a lifetime chance and I can't believe she was invited!
We go to a meeting in early September that will explain everything and answer any questions we have. The trip is led by alumni who have been taking these trips for years.
We spent last night pouring over their website and are confident that she will be safe and well taken care of.
One of the interesting things I read on their site is that Walt Disney attended the original conference with President Eisenhower and then in 1964 he created the It's A Small World ride in honor of this program.
We'd never heard of this organization and were shocked when the letter arrived.
I will be extremely nervous while my 15 year old is off exploring the world but this is an experience I could never afford to give her and there's no way I can let my fears keep her from experiencing such an incredible event.
I think she was recommended to People to People by our state Senator, Don Gaetz, because she received a leter from him not too long ago complimenting her on having outstanding FCAT scores. Mr. Gaetz is the chairman of the Senate Education Committee and she was really excited to receive his letter.
I'm still in shock and she's ready to go shopping for a new wardrobe for her trip LOL
Congratulations Island Girl - we are SO proud of you!!!!