People to People Controversy

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So I’m listening to the morning news and I hear this story concerning the organization People To People. I found this to be interesting considering who they are as a group, who is in charge, what the story was concerning, and the fact I actually have history with this group. Before I get into my thoughts concerning the CBS Story and People to People themselves, I feel the need to explain where I fit into this picture a little better….

I finished my freshman year and it was summer time. On an unexpected summer day I received a letter from People to People; I think it might have been in July I forget. I don’t remember everything it said, although I do have the original letter somewhere in my study, but in short it said I was recommended by someone to be apart of the People to People student ambassador program. Though I certainly didn’t have the best GPA my best subject in school was history, which I always got either A’s or B’s in, so the recommendation made sense to my parents and me. My parents after thinking about it decided to let me go on the trip, because they thought the idea of traveling outside North America was a great opportunity (my family loves to travel), as well as they thought it would be a good learning experience. After quite a bit of planning as well as taking care of all financial/legal concerns, I went on the trip with about 30 other kids and several chaperones for three weeks. We went to England, Ireland, and Wales. I went to various museums, historical sites, met a former member of Parliament, hung out with a rugby team, had two separate homesteads (one in England the other in Ireland), ate a variety of English and Irish foods, (loved the Sheppard’s pie especially!) and took a lot of pictures! (I’m tempted to look at my photo album later now) I learned a lot and had fun.

So considering my experience, how did I feel after hearing the CBS news story? Well I was certainly disappointed to hear about the letter of “recommendation” to the parents of the deceased child, but I don’t feel that is the usual norm at least not in my area. Yes my GPA wasn’t anything to brag about, but again I always did well in history, which was something People to People said their group was primarily helpful for, and although the letter didn’t say who recommended me I think I know who it was and he was a very trustworthy individual. I do agree the People to People experience hasn’t really impressed anyone I’ve shown my resume to, but then again I already admit I wasn’t the best student academically as is and maybe I’ve described it wrong to people who knows lol. From what I remember, the staff was professional. I also remember the letter itself wasn’t an automatic entrance in that I had to find a few adults to write an evaluation of me and they had declined several students who didn’t have high enough evaluations, so I mean at the time this wasn’t just something anybody could enter. If I remember right the trip cost around $3,000, but keep in mind this was for 3 weeks, international airfare, travel expenses, food and lodging, entrance fees to various travel destinations, etc. (most were pretty nice places to rest.) I certainly learned a lot and we were required to complete assignments as well as keep a travel journal. (sadly I can’t find my travel journal 😦 ) I am disappointed by some of the things CBS reported in that it seems they’re currently having some problems, but looking back on all this in some ways it was beneficial and in the end it depends on how you use the experience as it functioned very similar to a school sponsored, out of the country trip students take for foreign language classes you know? Despite some of the stuff in the report, I won’t be taking down the group photos in my study or burning my photo album anytime soon as I don’t regret being there.

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