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LHS freshman seeking donations for overseas travel as ambassador

by Hope Nealson Western News
| November 5, 2007 11:00 PM

When 14-year-old Dietrich Coleman received a flyer in the mail about People to People International, he researched the 50-year-old educational student ambassador program and filled out an application.

After interviewing in Spokane, Wash. and obtaining recommendations from his teachers, Mr. Mee, Mrs. Stephenson and Mr. Bruce Vincent of Provider Pals, Coleman was chosen to represent Libby as part of a group of 40 students from western Montana, northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

"It will be cool to go to other places," Coleman said "to experience different cultures, their knowledge, and see how they live."

The group will travel to Europe in the summer of 2008 for a living history lesson, staying in a Medieval village and visiting Warwick Castle in England to experience how people lived during the Middle Ages.

Next, they will walk the war-torn cliffs of Normandy in France, stopping at the Normandy American Cemetery and Brussels, Belgium.

The three week trip will culminate in the Netherlands, where they will visit the house where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis.

Karin Lind, Coleman's grandmother, recently set up an account at First National Bank for anyone wishing to donate to the $5,200 trip, which Coleman will receive academic credit for.

"I got put in charge of it because (his) mom is so busy. The pressure is on," she said playfully. Lind added that they may also do a raffle later.

Coleman said he plans to soak up the knowledge of all those old places, "especially the Medieval stuff," adding that the program will give him a jump start on academic opportunities and scholarships.

Eight U.S. presidents have served as the honorary chairman of People to People International, including John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower started the program in 1956, putting into action his belief that ordinary citizens of different nations would solve their differences and find a way to live in peace if able to communicate directly.

Inspired by People to People, Walt Disney created "It's a Small World" in Disneyland in 1964, introducing more than 250 million people to the concept that people all over the world share the same core values.

Coleman said he first knew he loved traveling when he took a trip with his grandmother last summer to meet his relatives, as well as visit the tallest mountain in Germany, Zugspitze.

Coleman said he is especially excited to experience more than one country this time and plans to take a lot of pictures.