By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
Launched by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956 to promote world peace, People to People provides opportunities for students in grades 5 through 12 to learn about cultures around the world.
This summer, Guymon High School junior Heather Scott, 16, will get to learn about some of the heritage of the only inhabited continent entirely south of the Equator.
“I’m going to Australia in June for People to People student ambassador tours,” she said.
Heather said as part of the trip, she and other students will meet with government officials in the Land Down Under. This will help the youth to learn about how the country’s government operates.
“We will stay with a host family so we can get the culture,” she said. “We will also go to the Great Barrier Reef, and we have the chance to go snorkeling. We are also going to meet up with an Aborigine tribe.”
Heather was nominated by someone through the organization’s Web site, peopletopeople.com, but she nor her father, Jeff, knows who selected her.
“There’s an interview process,” she said. “They send you letters saying that you can go to this meeting. You fill out an application if you’re interested, and they call you back for an interview. After all the interviews are done, they call you and let you know who’s been accepted and who hasn’t.”
Heather said she and Jeff believe it was someone associated with GHS.
“We’re thinking it might’ve been that our principal went through and whoever seemed to have good grades and active in stuff were nominated, but we’re not really sure,” she said.
Jeff said other members of the family have been on similar journeys.
“She has a cousin that went on almost exactly the same trip two years ago,” he said. “She has an interest in doing some missionary work. She’s been interested in exchange programs for a long time. We had actually been looking at some other things when this came up.”
In order to go to Australia, Heather does need to raise funds, and Jeff said sponsorships are needed.
“We have to raise $6,500,” Heather said. “I’m selling braids and bears. We’re also asking for sponsorships. If you don’t want to buy anything, you can just donate.”
Jeff and Heather are looking at utilizing events such as garage sales or auctions to help raise the money.
“We haven’t quite figured out exactly how we’re putting that together,” Jeff said. “There’s a band in Guymon that’s going to do a concert. It’s not finalized.”
Jeff, who lives in Liberal, said his daughter will be doing a babysitting fundraiser at Church For All Nations.
“The Saturday night before Valentines Day at the church, she’s having a parents’ night where the parents can go on a date, drop their kids off, and she’ll watch them along with her assistants,” he said. “She’s already raised some. I’ve helped a little bit. Some of her family has helped a little bit and will probably help a little bit more. It’s still a fair amount that she’s raising.”
Jeff said the students who participate in People to People are high quality.
“They’re active,” he said. “They’re known around their town as quality kids. She fits all those categories.”
Although an exact date is not known for the trip, Heather will be going to Australia sometime in June.
“They finalize all that in April,” Jeff said. “It’s about three weeks. It starts toward the end of June, and it’s about 17 to 20 days.”
Heather is very excited about the opportunity to visit another country.
“Since about five years ago, I have had a great interest in going to different countries,” she said. “When I got this letter this year saying that I get to go to Australia, that’s pretty exciting because it’s my first country.”
Jeff said Heather has always had an interest in traveling.
“She has family that’s traveled a lot,” he said. “My dad’s traveled a lot. I’ve traveled a fair amount. She’s had cousins that lived in Europe for 10 years.”
While she does have an interest in traveling, Heather has not taken many trips.
“I’ve never even been out of the country,” she said. “I’ve been to Minnesota and Florida, and that’s about it. I went to D.C. for about a week. That’s exciting. You get to see more cultures, but it’d be nice to see the culture in the actual place that it happens.”
For information on helping the Scotts raise funds, call Jeff at 391-7225 or Heather at 417-5777.