Baldwin teens travel as ambassadors
Max Daigh and Adam and Nicki Smith saw many places this summer most students only read about in textbooks.
The Baldwin trio spent June 9-29 in Europe visiting Italy, Austria, Switzerland and France as part of the People to People student ambassador program.
"Everyone was saying it's the opportunity of a lifetime," Daigh, 15, said. "That's why I went. And it truly was an opportunity of a lifetime."
Daigh and the Smith siblings, along with a group of students from the Topeka area, spent most of the month of June traveling through Europe and learning other countries' cultures.
"It was fun to go and have a bit of cultural growth," Adam Smith, 18, said. "We saw things we learn about in school that no one else has seen."
People to People was originally started by former President Dwight D. Eisenhower to enable American youth an opportunity to experience new cultures.
This was Nicki Smith's second trip as a People to People ambassador. The 15-year-old travelled to Australia as an ambassador two years ago.
"You can't really compare the two trips," she said. "It was just another great life experience. It's like the first day of school. You go in not knowing anybody and come out knowing everyone."
The Baldwin teenagers saw everything from the Eiffel Tower in Paris to the Coliseum in Rome. They even visited the Vatican, which Daigh said was his favorite part of the trip.
"It's like a whole different way of life in the Vatican," he said. "Everyone was so caring for each other."
He even did some souvenir shopping while they were there.
"I bought a Bible at the Vatican because, you know, you have to," he said.
The group stayed most of the time in hotels, but in Austria they were able to stay with families for a few days, which they said enabled them to see other ways of life and find out what others thought of United States politics.
"They are much more educated in politics than us," Adam Smith said.
"I got to really see their views on the U.S.," Daigh said.
The group also had plenty of opportunity to try some new foods.
Adam Smith, who had visited parts of Europe before, said he wasn't always sure what the food was he was eating, but he liked it.
"The meals were pretty interesting," he said.
"It was like a guessing game sometimes," Nicki Smith said.
Daigh said unlike the Smiths, he didn't find much to eat that he liked.
"The food in Europe is terrible," he said. "In Rome we had rolls you could have played hockey with."
But the three said they were glad they had the opportunity to visit Europe. Nicki Smith said it was special to her because of travel companions.
"Just being able to share that experience with my brother and one of my friends from school was really nice," she said.