Morgan Tuschen isn't new to traveling abroad, but in her first trip to Europe the 13-year-old Martinez resident had to adjust to new cultures and cuisines.
Morgan and an area contingent of sixth- through eighth-grade pupils traveled with students from four other U.S. states throughout Europe this summer. In addition to acclimating themselves to the time change, the students had to adjust to new foods and a new language. During a three-day stay with an Austrian family, Morgan had to finesse her way through the language barrier.
"It was really interesting because they didn't know a lot of English," Morgan said of her summer trip as a student ambassador with the People to People program. "It was interesting trying to carry on a conversation with them."
Nancy Smith, a sixth-grade language arts teacher at Columbia Middle School where Morgan is now in the eighth grade, was one of the teacher leaders for the trip.
"During the trip, Morgan grew in so many ways," she said of her former student. "I think one of the biggest challenges for Morgan was the differences of the food that she was used to at home to what we were served in Europe. At the beginning of the trip, she was very suspicious of everything served. By week two, she had at least tasted the Austrian food. By the time we reached Italy, Morgan overcame her cautiousness. I was very proud of her."
Morgan was nominated for the People to People Student Ambassador Program by her older sister, Maygen, who went to Europe in 2004. After hearing of her sister's experience, Morgan jumped at the opportunity to go on the cross-continent adventure. She spent 20 days traveling throughout France, Switzerland, Austria and Italy.
"I really enjoyed the bus rides and going to the various places," she said. "And being able to talk to other students from other states."
Additionally, Morgan came away from the trip with a new best friend, Michael Dick, a freshman at Greenbrier High School.
"We talk about once a week," said the all-A honor student. "I met one of my best friends on that trip."
The daughter of Bryan and Amy Tuschen says now that she's back in the United States, she is busy participating in numerous sporting activities, including serving as co-captain of her school's soccer team in the spring. While she adamantly declares soccer as her favorite sport, Morgan also is active in softball, basketball and was on her school's track team last year.
"Morgan is a wonderful student," Smith said. "Not only does Morgan work hard in the classroom, she is a dedicated athlete. I truly enjoyed getting to know her even more outside of the classroom."
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