Experiencing Australia and becoming a more well rounded person because of it

By Katrina Grant

Each year groups of students embark on trips to selected countries around the world through the People to People Student Ambassador program. This year students from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts were in a group that went to Australia from July 8 through 27. Jaden Tyrrell, 15, of Shamong was one of the students to attend the trip.

The People to People Student Ambassador Program operates under People to People International, a non-political, private-sector organization founded by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 to further international goodwill and understanding.

It provides educational goodwill travel programs for three groups — fifth and sixth grades, seventh and eighth grades and ninth through twelfth grades. Each group can have 40 students with four leaders. The leaders can be teachers, retired teachers, or school administrators. Programs are offered all over the country and thousands of students travel each year.

Tyrrell was first approached to go to Germany with the program for tennis.

“I looked online and saw what the itinerary was, but I didn’t want to do the Germany trip,” Tyrrell said. “But I was recommended for the Australia trip and I looked at the itinerary for that and wanted to go.”

After being recommended, Tyrrell had to complete the application process. She had to move through the process quickly because she was applying in April.

“You have to do the application, and an interview,” Tyrrell said. “The selection process looks at your GPA, there has to be three teacher recommendations, you have to be well rounded and a good student. I also had a month to do quizzes, but they were easy.”

Tyrell was picked in May and was very excited about the trip and all the new experiences she would have and learn from.

“The programs give students an opportunity to be great ambassadors for themselves, their families, their schools, their churches, and the United States,” Jeanne Hayes, People to People Delegation Leader said. “The students also see and do many activities that will help them decide what they would like to become. They also show goodwill to the people they meet and when they are completing a service project.”

While in Australia, Tyrrell and her group got to see the many attractions in Australia and participate in some amazing excursions. They traveled the coast of Cairns and went scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, among many other activities.

“We went sand bogging in the sand dunes, which was amazing,” Tyrrell said. “We went to Tangalooma, which is a dolphin research center, that was a lot of fun. We got to propel down a 200-foot cliff; that was probably my favorite thing we did.”

During the trip all hotel accommodations and meals were paid for, but the groups did get to stay with host families for a few days out of the trip.

“I got to stay with a family of four on a farm in the Outback,” Tyrrell said. “They had two kids, so that was cool and they were really nice.”

Tyrrell isn’t sure if she’ll go on another trip next year, but loved the experience of Australia. She also tries to stay in touch with her delegation.

“I do talk to people from my group,” Tyrrell said. “I’m not sure if I’ll go on another trip next year because of the cost, but Australia was a lot of fun.”