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Local ambassadors going down under

KINGSTON — Four North Kitsap students will represent their schools and their country this summer in the land of kangaroos, the Outback and down under.

Kingston Junior High students Amanda Morgan and Noah Hieronymus and North Kitsap High School students Tina Petrie and Ian Reynolds have been selected to participate in the People to People Student Ambassador program, which sends hundreds of American students around the world each year to represent their own country and learn about others.

The students — part of a regional contingent that currently has 46 members — will fly to Los Angeles in early July, then on to Sydney, Australia.

Once in Australia, they will participate in cultural activities as disparate as a canopy tour of the country’s rain forest to a snorkeling trip to the Great Barrier Reef.

“It’s to understand other countries better,” said Morgan. “I really don’t know what people there are like.”

In order to make the trip, students must be nominated, then undergo a series of meetings and interviews and provide letters of recommendation from two teachers and one other person.

Kingston Junior High career specialist Linda Golden, who wrote a letter for Morgan, said she was proud of the nominations secured by Morgan and Hieronymus.

“This is a real achievement,” she said.

The People to People program was started in 1956 by President Dwight Eisenhower. Eight U.S presidents have since served as honorary chairman for the program, which has sent students to continents such as Europe and South America and countries such as South Africa and Egypt.

Recipients of the organization’s top award, The Eisenhower Medallion, include Mother Teresa and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (posthumously).

Hieronymus said he was happy to be part of the program.

“I thought it would be a fun thing to do. I could learn a lot and meet new people,” he explained. “It’s pretty much to be a student ambassador. You meet people and tell them what America’s about.”

Students must complete a project before taking the trip; Hieronymus and Morgan are doing a presentation on the Aboriginal people of Australia.

Once there, they will each stay with Australian families so remote they have to attend school by radio, since the families’ homes are so far apart.

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