Student ambassadors travel abroad

POULSBO — North End students Josh Shlemmer, Cody Jennings and Breann Peoples don’t even know which teachers nominated them to be ambassadors but what they’ve found is that they’re in for the adventure of a lifetime.

The three have been selected to visit different parts of the world as participants of the People to People Student Ambassador program.

This summer, Shlemmer and Jennings of Suquamish will discover the intricate history of Europe, while Peoples, a North Kitsap High School sophomore, will learn firsthand the culture of the land Down Under.

People to People was founded in 1956 by President Eisenhower to create peace through understandings, with the belief that ordinary citizens could make a difference where governments couldn’t. Since then, the program has taken thousands of young Americans across international borders on experiences much more enriching than a mere tour.

Shlemmer, a fifth grader, and Jennings, a sixth grader, will travel across the Atlantic with a group of about 20 same-age student ambassadors from Washington state. They will be off to Europe to travel across Ireland, Great Britain, France and The Netherlands, learning about the rich history of the countries along the way.

“I’ve always wanted to go somewhere else just to see the difference (between cultures),” Jennings said about the trip, adding that when he thinks of Europe, he thinks of medieval times.

In England, Jennings and the group will have a chance to take a look at just that when they visit Warwick Castle — a moated fortress built in 11th century Warwickshire.

The elementary delegates will also follow in the footsteps of William Shakespeare when they tour his hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon before visiting the Tower of London to attend a Parliamentary briefing.

“What the founder wanted was to create peace through all the different places by learning the similarities and differences about different cultures,” Shlemmer said. And in the spirit of trying something different, he added, “I really wanna try the escargot.”

The student ambassadors will be served that delicacy among others in the last stop of the tour: Paris.

Along with sampling the best French snail and frog legs, the students will also visit the grand gothic Notre Dame Cathedral and ascend the Eiffel Tower.

The 20-day experience will give the students a look at life on the other side of the Atlantic as well as into the past as they study European history.

Peoples, as part of a group of about 30 high school-aged student ambassadors, will be venturing Down Under to learn about and explore the far-off continent of Australia.

The group will also have the chance to mingle with “residents” of the Australian Outback. Peoples said a side trip to a wildlife park on Airlie Beach will be a high point of the upcoming journey.

“I’m looking forward to holding a koala and seeing all the types of animals there,” she said.

The group will also get the unique experience of hand-feeding a dolphin when the students travel to Brisbane to work with marine biologists collecting data and studying the dolphins’ behavior.

Then, the student ambassadors will actually dive in themselves when they snorkel the waters of the Sunshine Coast, and in Cairns, they will snorkel to see the many colors of the Great Barrier Reef.

All of these experiences should be educational, exciting and unforgettable for the lucky group of students but they don’t come without a price tag.

Each North Kitsap student is hard at work raising funds to go toward the approximate $5,000 cost of the trip per student. The Suquamish students are working with the school’s Associated Student Body while Peoples has been selling candy and pet sitting in an effort to raise money.

Anyone interested in helping out can contact the students through their respective schools: NKHS at (360) 779-4408 and Suquamish Elementary at (360) 598-4219.

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