My People to People Student Ambassador Trip

written by Nicholas Cohn

My son is back from his People to People ambassador trip, and we are slowly settling back into our regular family routine.  He came home with lots of laundry, a little jet lag, and many memories.  What I love most about having him home is the huge smile he constantly has on his face as he shares the many stories of his trip.  Later, I will share my perspective on how this trip changed our family, but first I want him to share his story with you.  Here are some of Nick’s thoughts on his People to People student ambassador trip…

My People to People Student Ambassador Trip

Prior to our departure on the People to People Celtic Cultures trip, my experience was predicted to be “once in a lifetime”, a term often thrown around by our delegate leaders, by People to People alumni, and by my own friends and family. Until taking this trip, I do not think I ever truly understood what that phrase really meant. I went into the trip with an itinerary, a suitcase, a lanyard, and a journal, accompanied by my fellow delegates who, in the broadest of terms, were practically strangers to me, and I to them. Because I joined the group later, I missed the opportunity to get to know some of them as well as I’d hoped. In my mind, they already developed a sense of family among one another, that I feared I I may have missed. I did not realize that we would come to forge new bonds that would transcend the ones formed on our home soil.  I can honestly say that few of us truly knew what to expect when we first stepped off the plane into Scotland, but through this trip. we rapidly drew closer together.  We did not know what lay in store for us, but we knew one thing for certain: it was going to be an adventure.

Over the course of the next few weeks, we saw such wonderful things–from the beautiful scenery of the Lakes of Killarney, to the bright beaches of Wales, to the colorful sites of modern London. We faced challenges together in the roaring white waters of Scotland, rappelling from an ice tower in Wales, exploring the busy streets of Dublin, staying overnight with a host family, shedding tears at the Peace Wall in Northern Ireland, and climbing the basalt rocks of Giants Causeway. 

We laughed together. We played together. We sang together (perhaps a little too much). We sipped tea side-by-side.  We looked out over the new world opened up before us–a world of castles, queens, and fortresses, of skyscrapers and parliaments. This trip was simply wonderful, a well-organized, educational, and truly enjoyable time, with fantastic leaders and kind locals who showed us the rich history of the various regions. This trip was more than traveling to a location, however.  We were representatives of our home, our state, and of the United States.  We changed perspectives in others, and gained new perspectives of our own.

What makes this the trip of a lifetime is not what I went into it with, but what I gained from it.  As I mentioned, I went into the trip with little more than an itinerary, suitcase, lanyard, journal, and forty-one strangers.  At trips end, my itinerary was complete, having crisscrossed the British Isles and viewing every inch of its beauty. My suitcase was a bit messier than when I started, but enclosed within it were new treasures, not simple souvenirs, but relics by which to remember the best parts of the journey. My lanyard became a familiar friend around my neck, bristling with new pins.  My lanyard was physical representative that I was part of a unique group of people, each of us wearing our lanyards with pride to represent People to People and the United States.  I was sad to take my lanyard off a final time, often reaching for it in the days following.  My journal, blank at the start, grew into a chronicle of my memories, perhaps as one of the most important items I would have, a collection of  my new friendships and my most cherished moments.  

 

Finally, the forty-one strangers with whom I first journeyed, soon came to be my new extended family.  Although we were strangers when we began, we were far from it at the end. I spent almost twenty-four hours a day for nineteen days with this group.  We ate together, slept together, laughed together and cried together.  We formed a bond that some people wait their whole lives for.  Every person was an important component to the trip, and without any one of them, this trip would not have been the same. In short, I came back with a new outlook on life, a new appreciation for the connections I gained, both across the oceans and across the street. This trip made me a new person, and thus it truly was a “once in a lifetime”.

Sincerely, Nick

My People to People Student Ambassador Trip2

{Disclosure:  People to People Ambassador Programs sponsored my son’s trip and I am serving as a Special Ambassador Correspondent to share his experience. Opinions expressed here are my own and my sons own.}

For more information about the People to People Ambassador programs, please visit their website and their blog.  You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

To find out more about People to People, see how Nick prepared for his trip, meet one of the People to People teacher leaders, and find out how People to People changed our family because of this trip.

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2 comments

Pat 07/24/2014 at 1:52 pm

Beautifully written. Nick is a Treasure. We’re so proud to call him our grandson.

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Lara 07/25/2014 at 11:47 am

Travel has an amazing way of making our worlds both smaller and larger, through the places we see and the people that enrich our journey. I too became aware of this in my teens when a stepped off a plane in Spain for a three year adventure. I’ve loved following along on Instagram and can’t wait to hear more from both of you!

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