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Teen Travel and Study Abroad

How Travel Has Shaped My Life

Traveling the Seven Continents with the People to People Ambassadors Program

Seven Continents of Adventure

I caught the travel bug when I was ten years old. Now, five years and seven continents later, there is no looking back. I am completely hooked.

The opportunity to travel first came about when I received an invitation to go to Australia and New Zealand as a student ambassador with People to People Ambassador Programs. I was just entering the fifth grade and was very excited about traveling to the other side of the world with students my own age. The trip turned out to be full of adventure and discovery.

The following year, I applied to be a junior leader and joined my local People to People Student Ambassadors group for another great adventure through the Canadian Rockies. The trip departed from Vancouver, British Columbia and took us to Banff National Park where I stood on a glacier, slept in a tee-pee with the Blackfoot Indian tribe and participated in an excavation dig in Drumheller, Dinosaur capital of the world. As soon as I returned, I was planning my next trip.

Future Student Ambassador trips took me to the Great Wall in China, the Coronation Childrens’ Hospital in South Africa, the Acropolis in Greece, the southern tip of Argentina, and finally, to Antarctica.

Bringing Antarctica Home

Leading the group to Antarctica were some very dedicated scientists, environmentalists, biologists, and educators who wanted to teach teenagers like myself and others about climate change and the problems facing our planet—especially at the poles. Sailing through the Drake Passage, nicknamed “the Drake Shake” by many early explorers, was a true test of one’s sea-legs.

While sailing through the cold waters of Antarctica, we attended lectures and learned about global warming and climate change. The scientists and environmentalists taught us lessons about the continent’s history, and the many explorers who have navigated its vast terrain.

Each morning, we all woke up to the daily impact of global climate change. We witnessed glaciers melting and ice sheets slowly disappearing. After this experience, I made a commitment to make changes in my daily life that would impact the planet for good. As soon as I returned home, I created a website about my experience in Antarctica and included easy, everyday tips for individuals to reduce their energy consumption.

The Benefits of Travel

Travel has undoubtedly shaped the person I am today. As a result of my travels I have learned that we are all global citizens—and that we actually have far more in common than differences.

I have loved my experiences as a student ambassador and believe it is not only important to see the world but equally important that people from other countries get to know me and the other student ambassadors from the United States so that we can help break down some of the misconceptions other countries may have about Americans.

I believe President Dwight D. Eisenhower realized this when he first started the People to People Student Ambassador program. He knew that the only way to achieve lasting peace in this world would be through young people taking the time and initiative to understand and appreciate our differences while finding the common ground that binds us together. .

At the age of fifteen, I may have already seen all seven continents, but I plan to continue to pursue opportunities to visit different parts of the world as I finish high school and go on to college.

For more information on People to People Ambassador Programs, please visit peopletopeople.com.

Meghan Kaupp
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