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Student ambassador heads for Australia

Program designed to 'promote peace through understanding' and bridge cultural and political borders

Posted: July 6, 2009 4:33 p.m.
Updated: July 7, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Zachary Fetter, 12, who is exploring Australia this summer as part of the People to People program, looks at a Web site about what he will see while diving on the Great Barrier Reef.

Snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, learning to throw a boomerang and communicating with local tribes is all a part of what Zachary Fetter, 12, is exploring in the land of Australia, through the People to People Student Ambassador Program.

Since Thursday, Fetter has joined other middle school-aged student delegates from the United States in the educational travel program, which offers unique access to the people, places and activities of different foreign lands around the globe.

"I'm excited to go on this program," said Fetter, a recent Wiley Canyon Elementary School graduate, before his trip. "It gives people a chance to see how others live and what their culture is all about."

Fetter will receive a Certificate of Completion upon finishing the trip as a student ambassador, which can be added to his educational portfolio and add credibility on scholarship and university applications in the future.

Established by Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956, the program was designed for students from fifth- to 12th-grade, with the mission to "promote peace through understanding" and bridge the gap between cultural and political borders.

The program is meant to use education and people to people exchange in order to make the world a better place for future generations.

One student from today's generation knows how important this experience can be.

"It can teach us that we are all the same," Fetter said. "Even though we live in different cultures and believe different things, we are all people. When you learn about others, you get closer to understanding them."

The program is geared to help students enhance the appreciation for the world in which they live, build on self-confidence, enrich their education through learning in a global classroom and develop levels of maturity and independence.

Fetter hopes to better understand the culture and civilization that exists in Australia, with an action-packed itinerary that will keep him learning every day.

"I am most excited about snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef," Fetter said. "I also want to talk to people and have them teach me about where they come from and how they live."

Fetter qualified for the program through exhibiting academic excellence at Wiley Canyon.

The program requires that invited students academically qualify by showing outstanding school merit and aptitude.

Candidates must also obtain three letters of recommendation and complete an interview with program officials as well as attend a series of meetings prior to the program trip, in order to fully prepare for the experience.

At his recent graduation from Wiley Canyon Elementary, Fetter was awarded the Presidential Educational Silver Seal Award, for his high academic achievements.

"I'm good at school because my grandmother helped me a lot, especially with math," Fetter said.

"I would study with her a lot and she gave me workbooks to practice in. It really helped," Fetter said.

Fetter's grandmother also had a part to play in Fetter's fundraising to go on the upcoming trip.

Costs of trips vary between programs, but range between $5,000 to $7,000 for international junior high and high school trips.

Fetter had to get creative in saving up some money to pay for part of his trip.

"I collected cans and bottles for recycling," Fetter said. "I also helped my grandmother on the weekends when she was sick. I cleaned for her and took care of things around the house. I just like helping her."

Fetter spent every weekend with his grandmother for three months and saved up about one-third of the total cost of his trip.

"He works hard and will benefit from this trip a lot," said Fetter's mother, Sabina Fetter.

"This opportunity is once in a lifetime and we were going to help him get there however we could. It's so important that he goes," Sabina Fetter said.


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