Students heading down under | SierraSun.com

Students heading down under

Katherine Morris, Sierra Sun

Not many people can say they’ve ever snorkled in the Great Barrier Reef, followed around a kangaroo or spoken to a Maori tribesman.

In just a few months, though, two very lucky local students will have a chance to do all of that and much more when they travel to the land down under as part of the People to People Student Ambassador Program.

In June, Sarah Carter, an eleventh grader from the Coldstream Alternative homeschooling program, and Tyler DeSchryver, a fifth grader at Truckee Elementary, will spend two to three weeks in Australia and New Zealand, where they will learn about other cultures and communities, as well as share their own.

“I was so excited when I received a letter saying I’d been accepted [to the program],” Carter said. “Just the day before, I was saying that I really wanted to travel somewhere.”

DeSchryver said he’s really looking forward to seeing the Great Barrier Reef and learning how to throw a boomerang.

“I promised everyone at school that I would teach them how to throw one when I got back,” DeSchryver said.

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The People to People Program has been sending student ambassadors overseas since 1963. The nonprofit organization was founded by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who believed people would, in the long run, “do more to promote peace than their own governments,” according to a letter both students received from the program.

DeSchyver and Carter did not apply to the People to People Program, but rather were recommended by their teachers.

“For any student to make it into this program, it’s quite an achievement,” said Kristi Carter, Sarah’s mother. “They’ve got to be very responsible, real achievers, because they’re going to have to be able to conduct themselves like adults when they’re away from their families.”

Both students, who will be traveling on separate programs based on their ages, are already facing increasing responsibilities by having to find ways to raise the necessary $4,000 for the trip.

“We’ve really been working hard on fundraising for the trip,” said Lisa DeSchryver, Tyler’s mother. “Slowly but surely, we’ve been collecting money, but it’s not going to be easy.”

Tyler has been seeking out the help of corporate sponsorship, as well as selling raffle tickets for a trip to Orlando or Southern California for Easter break.

Sarah has been writing letters to residents of the Soda Springs community, where she lives, in efforts to raise money.

“These kids are going to have the time of their lives,” Kristi said. “They’re going to be so busy they won’t even miss us. I wish I could go, too.”

For more information on how to sponsor these students, please contact Sarah at 426-0907 and Tyler at 550-7790.