During the summer of 2009 a group of students and I participated in a People to People International adventure that would change my life forever. People to People is an organization started by our 34th President, Dwight D. Eisenhower; its mission is to promote peace through understanding, education and exchange. From the day I was invited to the day our trip ended I knew I was blessed to be a part of such a big mission. After months of interviews, meetings, shopping and packing the day had finally come; our destination, Australia.
Our experience begun even before leaving the US, being surrounded by so many great personalities assured me that is was going to be a great experience. Our itinerary was full from day break to sunset, never allowing a moment of boredom. We started in the lively Sydney; where we learned about Australia’s many fine sports, such as Cricket, Badminton, and Netball. After touring the fields and practicing a little Cricket, we were off to the jaw dropping Sydney Opera House, where we got a full tour and history of the building. I truly wished we could have watched a live performance but the sight of the building itself was entertaining. During our twenty-one days we each had the opportunity to lodge with an Australian family for one day and two nights. The families were wonderful and so warming; it was amazing to hear from them as it was to tell them about us. Pictures were shared along with laughs and memories. The very essences of President Eisenhower’s mission were captured during the few days with our home stay family; we came to realize that we weren’t as far from home as we thought. We related to them as family, the similarities were undeniable.
The Great Barrier Reef was a sight worth seeing a million times. If something could have caught my eye throughout this trip, the Great Barrier Reef sure did. We enjoyed a relaxing day while we experienced the beautiful waters of the Great Barrier Reef; I enjoyed my time greatly. I not only enjoyed the swimming, food and serene atmosphere but I was able to appreciate the natural life that was beneath the sea and around us; something that we each take for granted every day.
The trip carried on from Sydney to Cairns. We visited about two to three places each day, each leaving lasting memories for us along with great knowledge of Australia and its people. Each day was a new reward of being in another country, experiencing and understanding new things. In the end we each realized how much we related to these “strangers”, no longer were we ignorant and blinded by our own misconceptions and the stereotypes of today’s society. We experience for ourselves and came home with more than just picture, video and stories but with a new light that would spread on those we encounter. If each of today’s youth can obtain to the opportunity we did, the future of world relations seems bright.
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