WILLSBORO For Alexis McVicker, this summer fulfilled a dream, as she explored the World Down Under. From July 10-29 McVicker participated in the People to People Student Ambassador program, traveling to Fiji, Australia, and New Zealand.
I have always wanted to go to Australia and it was a dream trip to Fiji as well, said McVicker, who will be a junior at Willsboro Central School this year.
McVicker became involved in the program after receiving a letter in the mail, inviting her to attend an informational meeting in Vermont.
I thought it sounded interesting so I looked at which trip I would like the best, and made my first payment for the trip. The meetings were in New Jersey, and I was the only one from New York, said McVicker.
Through the program, participants meet other students, learn about other schools and make foreign friends. One of the highlights was visiting the Sydney Opera House, where McVicker had a chance to play the grand piano.
While participating in the program McVicker attended school in Fiji and Australia, went rock climbing and rappelling in New Zealand, and then later got to swim in a thermal pool naturally heated by the earth's core. While in Fiji she visited a river village in the rain forest, taking a trip by longboat.
She also spent two nights with a host family in Auckland, New Zealand, that had two children. Learning about these people and places gave me a way way to think outside of the box and be more open, said McVicker. It was also a lesson in responsibility.
She brought homemade maple syrup from the Adirondacks as a gift to her host family. It was a treat had never eaten it before.
McVicker returned home with a digeridoo that the aboriginals in Australia make: it is a section of tree naturally hollowed out by termites, and then cut made into horns.
In 1956 President Dwight D. Eisenhower created the People to People Student Ambassador Program as a way to bring about world peace and provide international educational opportunities for grade school, junior high school, and high school students. The journeys combine hands-on cultural experiences with behind-the-scenes access to fascinating people and places, and amazing outdoor adventures to create life-changing educational experiences.
McVicker said shed love to participate in the program again.
I learned that every place you go to is different, the people, the land, the buildings, the food, and so on. It showed me that I should be more open to try new things and meet new people, because Im better off, and better things come of that, said McVicker.