Bob Jones student to go "down under" with area delegation
Erica Wales selected to travel to Australia as People to People ambassador
By Thomas Tingle
Record Managing Editor
With less than a month away before Erica Wales boards an airplane and goes "down under" to visit Australia and New Zealand, all that's been on her mind lately is what type of gear she's going to need when she goes snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, or what kind of shoes she's going to have to wear when she climbs the Sydney Harbor Bridge, or will she get to sheer sheep while spending a few days on a sheep farm.
Wales, a sophomore at Bob Jones High School, has been selected to travel to Australia and New Zealand this summer as a member of the North Alabama delegation of People to People Student Ambassadors. Wales said she was notified on Dec. 4, 2001, that she had been selected to go.
"I'll be leaving on June 6 and will return on July 7," Wales said. "This is not the first time I've been overseas, but it is the first time I've been to Australia and New Zealand."
It will cost more than $4,490 for Wales to go on the trip, plus other expenses, and part of the trip will involve several unique experiences.
"I'm going to go snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, experience life on a sheep farm, go to an Australian school, climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge, see the Sydney Playhouse, learn about unique Australian animals such as koalas, kangaroos, wild dolphins, and I'll get to learn about the Aborigine, Maori and Australian culture," Wales said.
A fundraising group in Madison and personal fundraisers has helped Wales earn the money to go on the trip. While on the trip, Wales said she hopes to gain the chance to experience and learn new cultures and animals.
"I want to have fun, make new friends from halfway around the world and enjoy all of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and experiences that I will do," Wales said.
Wales is on the honor roll at BJHS, a member of the band, drum line, Spanish Club, and goalkeeper for the Lady Patriots varsity soccer team. She is also actively involved in Girl Scouts.
The People to People Ambassador Program, created in 1956 by President Dwight Eisenhower, is a prestigious worldwide effort to bring together citizens to work toward world peace. The program provides students a world of international opportunities.
Participants gain an appreciation for the world in which they live, build their self-confidence, enrich their education through learning in the global classroom, and develop increased levels of maturity and independence.
Ambassadors have unique interactions with local people during their home stays, school visits, and meetings with government officials.
Wales will find out this morning that she has been selected as a member of the Bob Jones High School Chapter of the National Honor Society. Membership is based on outstanding demonstrations of scholarship, leadership, community service and character. Her parents were informed last week of her selection to make sure she attends the induction ceremony today.
Earlier this month, Wales was notified of her selection for the 2002 Alabama Girls State Select Team and will represent Alabama at the Region III Olympic Development Program Soccer Camp at The University of Montevallo.