People To People Student Ambassadors
6th Grade Tour of Australia
People to People was founded by President Dwight D. Eisenhower during his administration. People to People Student Ambassadors travel overseas for 23 weeks during the summer to learn, share, and represent their communities and schools. Students must be recommended by a teacher and chaperones must be teachers, school counselors or administrators. Check out their website for an application or more information.
The Harbor Bridge and Sydney Opera House.
I joined the Columbus, Ohio delegation when a student from Chillicothe signed up to go on the Australian Adventure and found out they were in need of male teacher chaperones.
The tour began with several meetings during the spring. The parents learned about travel details while the students began keeping journals and doing research projects on Australia. Students can earn a credit for high school by completing a journal and writing a paper about what they learned.
Thursday-Friday, July 5-6th (Travel Days)
We flew from Columbus to Los Angeles on Thursday, July 5th. Here is where we met up with eight students and another teacher from Florida. Our delegation was small so they "blended" another smaller delegation together with us to make a full bus load of students. We then left on a twelve hour flight to Auckland, New Zealand. After a short layover in Auckland, we flew another three hours to Sydney, Australia.
Saturday, July 7th
We arrived at Sydney in the morning on Saturday, July 7th (losing a day as we crossed the International Date Line). We met our delegation manager, Helen Alexiou, and we boarded a bus to take a tour of the city. We went to the harbor and had our pictures taken with the Harbor Bridge and Opera House in the background. Then we visited a beach and stopped for lunch at Pizza Hut. During the afternoon, we checked into our hotel and left for dinner on the harbor at Nick's.
Julianne and Carrie
(Florida People To People delegation members who "blended" with our Columbus, Ohio Delegation)
Sunday, July 8th
We started the day with a tour of the Sydney Harbor and then went to buy opals. We then toured the inside of the Opera House. Lunch was on the harbor. We did a historical walk in "the Rocks" where each student dressed up and became a historical figure from colonial Australia. Dinner was at Planet Hollywood
View of the Sydney Opera House from our harbor tour.
Monday, July 9th in Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast
Today we flew to Brisbane and spent the afternoon in the shopping district with plenty of souvenir stores. Then off to Sunshine Coast where we settled into our accommodations at The Beach Club.
Tuesday, July 10th
Today we went to the beach and the students got to play in the massive waves. Then off to the koala park where we learned about koalas and students got to hold and get their pictures taken with one. We also fed kangaroos and saw a wombat. Then we visited an aquarium where the students could see plenty of Australian sea creatures including sharks, seals, fish, otters, sting rays and jellyfish.
Holding a koala at the wildlife preserve.
Wednesday, July 11th
Today we traveled to the farm stay. The long bus ride included a stop for lunch at a dairy museum where the students got to play several different sports. Once we settled in at the farm and had dinner, the students went to a campfire and listened to a ranch hand play her guitar and sing Australian songs. After the students were in bed, I spent another couple of hours laying out by the campfire and watching the Southern Night sky.
Thursday, July 12th
The students took a ride on horses and played basketball. In the afternoon, the students went on a bushwalk that included seeing goats and a boomerang demonstration. Ranch hands demonstrated how to use a whip during the afternoon and after dinner the students had a bush dance. All the students got a good look at the "Southern Cross" in the night sky before settling into bed.
Friday, July 13th
Another day of driving that included a stop at the Tropic of Capricorn, the geographical division between the Temperate and Tropic climates. On to the Whitsunday islands, where we took a ferry to a resort on Long Island. The evening was spent eating dinner, settling into rooms and a disco at the resort.
Off the back of the ferry in the Whitsunday Islands, a beautiful sunet.
Saturday, July 14th
The students went on a bushwalk in the national park on the island. They got to see several different types of plants and animals, including Kangaroo's Paw and crabs. Students also got to lick an ant that had a "sour" warheads-type flavor. They also dipped their feet into the ocean and explored the rocks along the shore. After lunch they went into the bush to feed kangaroos, onto the docks to feed fish and held bread for birds to eat along the beach. Volunteers from OUCH gave a presentation about the great barrier reef, plant and animal life on the reef and how humans can protect the reef from damage. After dinner, the students worked on journals and went back to the disco.
Sunday, July 15th
Riding a ferry out to the Great Barrier Reef, the students watched a video on the reef and were fitted for wetsuits. We arrived at "Reef World" a floating deck where students could board a "submarine" or observation boat with glass windows for seeing the reef. Snorkeling tours left from the back of the deck and students had plenty of time to swim and explore the reef and fish.
Ashley and Christin
Monday, July 16th
Another long drive to Yeppoon where we stayed at a resort with the largest outdoor pool (including a waterfall) in Australia. A few students went with me to an astronomy presentation. We were driven away from the resort to a location on the golf course, away from the lights. Our presenter gave an overview of astronomy and shared with us many facts about the night sky, our solar system and the galaxy. We looked through a high powered telescope at a few clusters of stars and then Alpha Centaur (besides the sun, our closest star) and Mars. Besides our own sun, Alpha Centaur is the closest star (actually we could see two stars even through it is composed of three stars rotating around each other) and one of the pointer stars to help locate the Southern Cross in the Southern Hemisphere night sky.
Tuesday, July 17th
At the Aboriginal Cultural Center, the students got to see a native share artifacts and tell about life on the islands between Australia and Papa New Guinea. We got a demonstration on how to throw a boomerang and each student got a turn to throw one. Then we listened to an aboriginal native play the didjeridoo and then watched several native dances. Students even got to get up on stage and learn a few dances! On to the Capricorn Caves were we ate "bat" burgers for lunch and went on a cave tour. At the end of the cave tour, students divided into ability groups for more "spelunking" type adventures through the caves. That evening, the students went to a crocodile farm were we ate crocodile soup and then went out on a walking tour to see two very big crocodiles. Then we ate dinner and went back out to see several crocodiles in ponds. Afterwards students got to hold a baby crocodile.
Holding a baby croc at the Crocodile Farm in Yeppoon.
Wednesday, July 18th
Traveling back to Brisbane, we stopped at Gin Gin State School where students ate lunch and got to spend some time
wandering through the school and talking to students and observing classrooms. Once we arrived in Brisbane, the students were treated to authentic Australia food that included Emu sausages, fish and pavola for dessert.
Thursday, July 19th
Today the students were guests at St. Dymphna Catholic school. It began with an assembly in the courtyard and then students were divided among the students and went to several different classes in the morning. The parents had prepared a spread of cakes, cookies and juice for morning tea and the students mingled with the Australian students. Then all the 7th grade classes were put together and we learned about an Australian author and how words were used differently by Australians and Americans.
Lunch was a sausage sizzle and then students played sports or joined the Australians for games in the library. The school choir performed several selections and then the students watched a short play and heard two Australian students read a report. All the students were sad to see us leave and the Americans hated to say good-bye to their new friends. For dinner, we went to the Woolshed. Students saw a sheep sheared and then ate dinner followed by a bushdance.
Bree and some of her new Aussie friends.
The Americans and Australian students at St. Dympna Catholic School in Brisbane, Queensland.
Friday, July 20th
We boarded a flight in Brisbane to Sydney (about a two hour flight). From Sydney to Los Angeles, we again had a long flight that included 4 movies and 2 meals. The adult leaders spent the flight writing personal letters to all the parents and enclosing all the documents into individual folders for each student. In Los Angeles, we said good-bye to the sister delegation from Cleveland and the students that were traveling in our delegation from Florida. We flew to Phoenix (about one hour) and then had a long delay before taking our final flight back to Columbus. Parents were waiting in anticipation for us with balloons and tears. The trip was over and a success!
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