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Shooting Stars

Europe trip for young ambassadors

Guthrie (click for larger version)
July 07, 2010 - Independence Township residents Gil Guthrie and Kyle Weaver are finishing their stay in Greece this week before they head to Italy on Friday.

Both were chosen as People to People Student Ambassadors and left on July 4 for Greece, Italy and France.

"When I heard were I was going I was already dreaming about the things I would do," said Guthrie, a freshman at Notre Dame Prepatory.

"I was surprised," admitted Weaver, an eighth-grader at Marist Academy. "It was just exciting to be going to Europe."

While the two learned the culture, history and geographic of their Europe locations, they also picked up a few life skills.

"Gil learned about how to get his own checking account, how to use a debit card and how to apply for a passport," said Guthrie's mom, Marna Nemon. "He stepped up to the challenge and mastered on his own with very little help from me."

Gil even wrote an email petitioning for a debit card because his credit union didn't allow it for someone his age.

Weaver (click for larger version)
"In terms of his developmental growth from teenager to adult, this has been instrumental," said Nemon. "I know this isn't how he is looking at it but as a parent it has been phenomenal."

"Getting a credit card was hard to do," admitted Weaver. "I had to fill out a lot of forms."

Both collected bottles and cans throughout the school to raise money for spending.

"His school was very supportive," said Nemon. "Many teachers and families donated bottles to help Gil. People were very generous. It was very helpful. He was always bringing home bottles and taking them to Kroger and Meijer."

Weaver had help from his sisters, both had participated in the same program. Both helped him in tips on what to pack and well as what not to pack - especially if it gets lost.

"It has been bitter sweet," said Robin, Kyle's sister. "Watching him do it is a whole new experience. I have been really excited because these trips have a great cultural impact on you, a sense of where you fit in the world and how you can impact everyone."

She was excited to watch her brother leave for his trip but sad, too.

"He is my little brother and he is going to be gone for three weeks," she said.

The boys started in Athens and ventured to Peloponnesus to take part in a service project in Gylfada with the Archelon Association, who cares for the protection of sea turtles and the preservation of their natural habitat. Then played recreational activities with Greek children their age before taking a ferry to Italy. They will spend eight days in Italy visiting various historic sites like Olympia, Pompeii and Rome before heading to France.

Each day the boys will write in a journal about what they did every day and keep track of what they felt, learned, experienced along with their favorite and least favorite part of the day.

Before they left they both thought about the adventure ahead of them, Kyle was thinking about the places and the culture and Gil was excited about the food and taking everything in.

"I am looking forward to authentic Greek food," said Gil. "The same goes for Italian and French good.

"He is very open-minded to try new foods and looking forward to see how food is prepared there compared to how we interpret it here," said Nemon. "I know he will enjoy everthing while he is there."

Their last few stops are at the Louvre, where they will see Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpiece, Mona Lisa and a view of Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower.

They leave for home on July 23.

"It is going to be a great experience," said Kyle.

The People to People Student Ambassador Program was started in 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Since then hundreds of thousands of students have traveled to the South Pacific, Asia, Europe and other destinations learning and experiencing different cultures.

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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