Amy Tuschen knows what it's like to travel around the world, and wanted her three children to have similar experiences.
"When I grew up, I was able to do a lot of traveling myself," said Tuschen, the mother of two daughters and a son. "Giving them an opportunity to go overseas was important to me."
Tuschen and her husband, Bryan, saw their youngest child, son Matthew, off this summer as he embarked on a two-week trip to Europe with the People-to-People Student Ambassador program. Matthew's older sisters, Maygen, 15, and Morgan, 14, both participated in the People-to-People program the summer between their seventh- and eighth-grade years.
"We really wanted them to have this experience," said Mrs. Tuschen, who added that her parents and in-laws helped with the financial obligations for each child.
Matthew, a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Columbia Middle School, said he was intrigued by the People-to-People program after his sisters came home talking endlessly of their experiences.
"Mainly, they were telling me about the new friends they made and that the experience changed the way they acted," said Matthew, who added that the experience left him a changed person, too. "I'm more responsible with things around the house and I'm nicer."
During his two-week visit, Matthew visited Holland and learned about cheese- and clog-making. A walking tour of Amsterdam, a trip to the Louvre museum, a stop at the Eiffel Tower and a visit to Versailles were all part of the trip. But, Matthew said his favorite stop was The London Eye, Europe's tallest Ferris wheel at 443 feet.
"I just liked The London Eye," said Matthew. "It was a nice day."
Now that Matthew is back from his trip, he said what he learned -- responsibility and respect -- and the newfound friendships he made will become a permanent part of his life.
And, as he begins his final year before high school, he'll continue to hone those skills on the soccer field, where he has played for his school team the past two years, as well as in front of the school's student body as an announcer on The Raider Reports, the school's morning program. A Boy Scout with Troop 643 at Grace Baptist Church, Matthew said the People-to-People experience gave him a great appreciation for the world around him.
"I really enjoyed it and I'm glad I was able to go," he said.
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