Archive for Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Students readying for trip to Australia

December 8, 2004

Olivia Lorance and Austin Baragary have an opportunity to see a whole new world Down Under.

The two Tonganoxie students also will learn more about youth from across the globe.

Lorance, a freshman at THS, and Baragary, a seventh-grader at TJHS, were nominated for the People to People Student Ambassador Program. Both recently were selected for the organization, which will have its annual program next June in Australia.

During the 18-day event, ambassadors will stay with host families, meet with government officials and interact with other youth from locations throughout the world.

"That's one place I wanted to go," said Lorance, noting that she would be doing things in Australia she couldn't on a family trip.

"It's a lot more exciting."

Lorance already has traveled overseas.

In 1999, she and her family visited her grandfather in Israel where he was working at the time. She also visited Jordan during the trip.

Through the People to People program, Lorance will learn more about other cultures.

While in Israel, she certainly caught a glimpse of an unfamiliar environment.

"It's a lot different," Lorance said. "I saw a lot of things that I'm very thankful that I live here. It was actually scary.

"When we went through to Bethlehem we saw guards going along the borderline. They took a car of Muslims and were shaking it."

For Baragary, it will be his first venture outside the United States. Baragary's farthest trip thus far has been to Florida.

"I really want to learn about how Australians live," Baragary said.

To make the Australian trip a reality, the two local students have some major fund-raising ahead of them.

The program tuition is nearly $5,500 for each student.

Lorance currently is seeking financial sponsors from local businesses and family and friends. The first payment -- $1,000 -- is due next Wednesday. Baragary's first payment is due Dec. 22.

"It is really hard," Lorance said of raising the money. "It is extremely hard."

Lorance said her family is working on other ways to raise money, but doesn't have any formal plans.

As for Baragary, he and his family thought about possibly doing something involving food.

"We're still trying to think of how to do that," Baragary said. "We're thinking we can do a spaghetti dinner or a bake sale or something like that."

Between 30 and 40 students in each age group -- grade school, junior high and high school -- are picked from each state for the People to People Ambassador Program.

The program was started in 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. According to the People to People Web site, Eisenhower founded the program on the idea that people from different countries, if able to communicate directly, could solve their differences and live in peace.

Lorance and Baragary are keeping busy in the months leading to their expected trip.

The Tonganoxie students meet with other People to People nominees and officials each month at two different Overland Park locations.

Lorance said she has to present essays at the meetings. Thus far, Baragary has gone through an interview process and this month has to present a project.

Both students are looking forward to the trip to another continent.

"I'm just looking for friendship and meeting people from other places and stuff like that," Lorance said.

Lorance also is looking forward to living with a host family and traveling to different areas of Australia during the 18-day trip.

Baragary, meanwhile, is expecting to learn new things while in Australia.

"We're going to stay with a family and we will be taught how to scuba dive," Baragary said.

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