People to People

Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family

My mother asked me to get the mail – nothing that abnormal. But when I got the mail there was a letter for me from People to People. I opened it immediately out of curiosity, and it said that I had the opportunity to explore England and France. I ran over to the market where my mother was and told her I was going to Europe. She turned and told me that it was a fraud, but I was already smitten with the idea and unwilling to give up on it that quickly. When we returned home, I went straight for the computer to learn more about the organization and found that not only was it real, it was founded by a president! I shouted for my mother to come and see. Grudgingly, she did, but still she was not convinced that I would be going to Europe. Now her excuse was it will be a fortune and we could not afford it. I took it upon myself to learn as much about People to People and convince my mother it was worthwhile. I printed pamphlets about it that conveniently would end up taped to her coffee mug, on a pillow, perhaps the car’s steering wheel. Finally my mother was tired of my propaganda, so she agreed that we could attend an information session. I counted down every day until the meeting. Once the day came, I was a ball of nervous excitement. Throughout the meeting I was in awe; the itinerary, the people, and the overall experience. My fifth grade mind, though, just glazed over the fact that the trip would cost $6,000. My mother, who was gradually coming around to the idea, halted. We could never afford the trip. Nevertheless, I was obstinate. I told my mom that I was going to raise the money myself. Looking back, I do not even know how I did all the fundraisers and the sales, but I did. I earned every penny that was due. Of course, I did not do it alone; my mom was my champion, as was my community, which supported me the whole way. Before I began fundraising I typed a letter about my trip and my mother drove me to a variety of local businesses. I marched in with my head high and gave them my spiel. Once I received a positive response from several businesses, I began fundraising. One of my most successful sales was having a school penny drive where students compete to win an ice cream or pizza party. I also sold Smencils, a recycled smelly pencil, which was a hit. When the trip came, I became terrified. I had never gone to camp or been away from home on my own that long. However, once my delegation was in the airport, I practically forgot about my mother’s existence (sorry, Mom!) and was caught up in the thrill with the other travelers. All of the museums and history and culture flashed by. I was changed.Knowing what I know now, I do not think I appreciated how blessed that I was, but I can honestly say that my ambassadorship taught me the value of humankind. The trip gave me hope. I learned that I am capable and that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. This trip also cultivated my interest in investigative journalism. I learned first-hand that there is more in the world than my hometown, that we are all a member of the same world, and that I have a role to play in learning more about others and sharing their stories more widely.

Leave a Comment