By Jonathan E. Coleman
Almost everyone has received something in the mail that says, “Congratulations, you’ve won…” Usually there are all sorts of strings attached or hoops to jump through for the recipient to claim the prize.
But when 11-year-old William Bloomfield got a similar letter in the mail, it was no gimmick.
The rising sixth grader at J.N. Fries Middle School was nominated and selected to be a People to People Student Ambassador as part of a three-week trip to Italy and Greece.
The People to People program was established in 1956, when then-president Dwight D. Eisenhower created it with the mission of bringing peace through “personal exchanges and firsthand experiences with other cultures,” according to the program’s Web site.
Bloomfield is the only student from Cabarrus County chosen to take part in this summer’s student ambassador program, and will join 25 other youth from across the country for the trip, which is scheduled for June 21-July 10.
“It feels really good (being nominated),” Bloomfield said. “There was like 500 people and only 26 of us made it. I’m really excited.”
While many people haven’t heard of the People to People program, it wasn’t completely new to Bloomfield. His cousin went last year to Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
“That’s where we thought the nomination came from (William’s cousin),” Bloomfield’s mother, Beverly said. “But she said she didn’t nominate him.”
While the Bloomfields still don’t know who nominated William for the trip, they have gotten some good advice from his cousin about making the most of the experience.
“She said take lots of pictures,” William said. “That’s the main thing. I talked to some other kids and they said don’t over pack.”
To further help prepare for the trip, William has met several times with some of the other youth and leaders who will be traveling with him.
While Bloomfield admitted to being perhaps being most excited about the food, he’s also looking forward to the many educational opportunities he’ll have while on the trip, some of which, he added, have to do with food.
“I’m going to bake a pizza. I’m going to Crete and Sicily. I’m going to the Roman coliseum. On the fifth day we get to go to a water park.”
The educational component is a big part of the trip, Beverly said, but so too is the friendships he’ll build with the other youth.
“It’s a lifetime opportunity that will follow him forever,” she said.
And one that will almost certainly leave him with memories and stories to tell his family and friends when he returns.
“My grandparents have traveled all around the world, but they’ve never been to Italy and Greece,” he said. “A lot of 11-year-olds don’t even get to travel around the states, much less to another country.”
• Contact Jonathan E Coleman at [email protected] or 704-789-9105.