MOUNT VERNON — Growing up on a beef farm in rural Knox County is a far cry from life in the South Pacific. Especially for a 15-year-old girl who has never been on vacation, never seen the beach and never flown in an airplane.
A 22-day journey through Australia, New Zealand and the Fiji islands with People To People was an unforgettable experience for Trisha McConnell, daughter of Roger and Jean McConnell, who will be a sophomore this year at Northridge High School.
Trisha learned about People To People from a friend, Leslie Day, who had earlier attended a trip with this organization. She had received a flyer in the mail explaining the opportunities with People To People and was very interested. Her mother, Jean McConnell, was a bit skeptical earlier after a letter was received for her other daughter, Faith, to consider a trip with People To People. “We always thought it was like a scammy-type thing,” said Jean. But that attitude changed once Leslie told Trisha about her experience.
People To People is a student ambassador program created by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956, and designed to promote global awareness and readiness. Student participants gain an unequaled cultural experience and can also earn high school or college credits.
“It’s a cultural experience you cannot get in your hometown. It’s just really eye-opening,” Trisha told the News after returning on July 19, just one day before moving her beef cattle to the Knox County Fairgrounds for the following week’s 4-H livestock shows.
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