0428SLIFEAUDMimi Cundiff and Paige Hughes talk about why they wanted to their children to participate in the People to People Student Ambassadors Program.
Two Hall County eighth-graders have another reason to be excited about the school year winding to a close.
Raina Cundiff, 13, of South Hall Middle School and Nathalie Brock, 14, of West Hall Middle School are set to travel June 5-26 to Ireland, Wales and England as part of the People to People Student Ambassadors Program.
"I'm excited about meeting the other people and seeing all the architecture," Nathalie said.
Raina said she loves traveling anywhere, so the trip should be a blast.
"I like European culture and history, so it will be really great to experience it in person," she said.
Students don't just take in exotic sights on People to People trips, the families said.
They'll be staying with families, visiting schools and otherwise sampling culture in a way that ordinary tourists might not.
"Our journeys combine hands-on cultural experiences, behind-the-scenes access to fascinating people and places, and amazing outdoor adventures to create life-changing educational experiences," according to the People to People Web site.
Students also can earn college credit by signing up for a People to People-sponsored course that involves submitting a journal of their trip experiences.
The two girls never met each other until a People to People meeting earlier this school year. But since then, they and their families have gotten to know each other as they have worked to organize a car and motorcycle show as a fundraiser. The show is set for 2-5 p.m. Sunday at West Hall High School.
The cost of the trip, including incidentals, is about $7,000 per student. They hope to knock off about $2,500 with the fundraiser.
Raina's mother, Mimi Cundiff, said the family first received a People to People invitation when Raina was in the fifth grade.
"She wanted to go that year, but she was pretty young and we weren't ready for that yet," said her mother.
"This year, she really wanted to do it and she was old enough to help with the fundraising," Cundiff said. "And so that's why we decided to go ahead and do it this year."
A seventh-grade teacher nominated Nathalie for the program. The teenager also received a letter involving a program in Washington, D.C., said her mother, Paige Hughes.
"We opted for the trip overseas ... since she had been (to Washington) before," Hughes said.
The People to People invitations came in September, with an informational session at the Gwinnett Civic Center in October.
Interested students and families had to apply to the program, attaching recommendation letters and an essay. Students are later interviewed.
Cundiff, who has lived and traveled overseas with her husband, was excited for her daughter as she went through the process.
"Both of us thought what a cool thing for her to see Europe and get to do some of the things we did," she added.
"We just think it really opens your eyes to the world and you see things in a different way. ... At the same time, you're seeing people who are so much the same at heart."
Hughes said she went on a similar three-year trip to Europe after she graduated from high school.
"I wanted her to have the same opportunities to do that," she said.
For the girls, the trip also will help fuel their career aspirations.
Nathalie is looking at a possible career in art or architecture.
Raina said, "I've decided that being an ambassador would be a good job. Before that, though, I want to be a lawyer."