A few years ago, my son participated in the People to People Sports Ambassadors Program, traveling to Australia to represent the United States. Of course, I arranged travel there as well. It was a growth experience for all of us.

For my son, it was a lesson in meeting up with strangers, forming a team with the cohesion one requires, and trusting a coach whom he had never met, while traveling internationally and learning all of the ins and outs that it requires.

Now, the daughter of a lady I have had the privilege to call friend since we were fourteen – you do the math – is having her own People to People Ambassadors experience. She is fifteen, a tall beauty, and has traveled often and well, though this is her first trip to Europe. Her name is Ellie Whittington, and I am interviewing her today in order to learn what it is she is interested in learning through this process. For the purposes of this interview, I’ll use our initials to indicate who is speaking.

Interviewer – Renee Johnson – RJ
Interviewee – Ellie Whittington – EW
Ellie’s Mother – Paula Eller – PE

RJ: Hi Ellie. Are you excited about your trip?

EW: Yes, of course, especially as it is getting close to departure.

PE: She’s mature and been testing her wings since she was small. I want her to have that – roots and wings.

RJ: What is your schedule?

EW: Charlotte to JFK in New York with a seven hour layover. Then on to Ireland, then to Wales, England, France, Belgium, and Holland

RJ: Which place are you most intrigued about?

EW: Amsterdam! Because of Anne Frank’s house and experiencing the area and touring the secret annex.

RJ: What do you hope to accomplish on this trip?

EW: Understand culture through my adapting and immersion into their countries.

RJ: Have you met any of the people who will be traveling with you?

EW: Yes, once a month we have a meeting. One guy from school is going, but everyone else is either unknown or a new acquaintance.

RJ: How many people are going on this trip?

EW: Seventeen from my delegation and twenty-three from Asheville, North Carolina.

RJ: In what way to you intend to use this to aid your future?

EW: I hope it will help me with college admissions.

RJ: What do you wish to major in?

EW: (with a chuckle) Pediatric dentistry or journalism. I know that is two completely different occupations but I haven’t decided between them.

PE: Katie Curic watch out! Ellie will be your replacement.

RJ: Is there a particular college you are interested in?

EW: New York University

RJ: Well enough about the serious trip details. Have you done a lot of shopping?

EW: Yes! But lightweight and fashionable don’t always mix.

RJ: I sense another growth opportunity!

PE: Practicality and fashion do not mesh with a forty pound limit on luggage.

RJ: Will you be sending feedback from Europe?

EW: I’ll be updating my status as the internet allows.

RJ: Can I share this with my readers?

EW: Sure – yes.

PE: Absolutely!

RJ: Will you come back after the trip for a followup interview, because I am interested in whether or not you get out of the trip what you anticipate?

EW: Yes, I’d love to!

RJ: Would you consider being a guest blogger on my site?

EW: Yes, absolutely.

RJ: You have a great eye for framing photographs, will you share some of your favorites with us?

EW: Yes, I hope to have lots to share.

RJ: What do you want to say that I haven’t asked?

EW: Just that I’m grateful for the opportunity. Everyone doesn’t get to do this at my age.

RJ: Mom are there any wise words you want to share with Ellie?

PE: Remember the ahah moments.

RJ: Good luck Stay in touch!

EW: Au revoir! I will!

Ellie’s mom Paula, and I had many adventures when we were Ellie’s age. We have also traipsed around Europe together and are excited for her journey. I was very impressed with Ellie’s answers, mostly the one about the place she was most excited about – Amsterdam because of Anne Frank! How many fifteen year old girls would say that about a trip that encompasses Paris and London as two premiere destinations? I can’t wait to hear all about her adventures and see her photos and I’ll share them with you. Hopefully, through her words so you can read her very thoughtful responses from her own perspective. I’m looking forward to it!

Bon voyage, Ellie!

People to People Ambassador:  Caleb and Me

People to People Ambassador: Caleb and Me

Ellie Whittington at the interview

Ellie Whittington at the interview

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