This summer was one of the most fulfilling of all my summers. I was fortunate to be selected to be a Student Ambassador for the organization People to People (http://www.peopletopeople.com). I went to Australia with 29 of my peers from local high schools and three chaperones. We were required to learn about the country of Australia including its government, history, and people.
We started our trip in Cairns. This was the most enjoyable place we went on the trip. The first place we visited was called “Rainforest Station”. It was run by the aboriginal peoples and that was very interesting. They showed us some of the dances that their people do. They also ran a little zoo with animals. We were able to hold a koala and have our picture taken with the animal. We went snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. This was a really neat experience. We were transported about an hour off the shore and ate on a dock out in the middle of the ocean. After we ate, we swam around and snorkeled. We got to see a sea turtle. We were accompanied by a Marine Biologist that told us about the Great Barrier Reef.
One of the opportunities that we had was to spend two days and nights with a host family. This gave all of us the opportunity to experience daily life in Australia. I really enjoyed the time that I spent with my host family. I learned that, for the most part, families in Australia are very much like families in America.
On our way to Sidney we stopped at a camp to make scones to take to a nursing home to share with some of the ancestors of the original settlers. We talked to them about some of the differences between Australia and the United States. A few people shared some very interesting stories of their childhoods. There was a man who had an American friend who had recently died. He had a lot of respect for us and we had the same for him. He played and sang songs for us. He was a New South Wales bongo champion player.
Our last stop was in Sidney where we had a personal challenge day. People to People call this challenge “Full On”. We participated in team building activities. We overcame our thoughts of not being able to do something. In this case, it was breaking boards. You had a choice of three levels of difficulty. I chose the hardest and broke it on the first try. The hardest thing we did was repelling down a 200 foot cliff in the Blue Mountains. I am very scared of heights so I was shaking and terrified but I did it and overcame a great personal fear.
We also went to the Sidney opera house on the last day we were there. It is the most unique and amazing building. It was much bigger than I thought it would have been. The opera house is more than one building comprised of two theaters surrounded by the sails. The sails look white but are actually a tan color that reflect light and look white.
Getting to go on this trip was so much fun and so educational. I got to learn about another country and not just through books. I really enjoyed the activities that we did. I feel like this opportunity will help shape me into a better citizen and student. I have learned much that will help through the rest of my life and will carry me a little higher than other people.
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