Herald JournalHerald Journal, July 26, 2004

Local students joins group traveling to Europe

By Starrla Mathews

Jeff Jagodzinski of Howard Lake recently returned with 30 to 40 students from across the nation, after traveling to Europe through the People to People Student Ambassador Program.

The organization, which was founded by President Dwight D. Eisenhower during his administration, gives middle school and high school students the opportunity to learn about different countries while representing their community.

Jagodzinski, a 17-year-old junior in the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted school district, learned about the program through his school. His sister, Katie, 15, who participated in the program last year, went to the South Pacific.

“This year, we went to England, France, Italy, and Greece,” Jagodzinski said. Total cost for the trip was around $5,000.

Jagodzinski said the trip was a valuable learning experience. “It was more of a field trip than a vacation,” he said. “They kept us very busy.”

During the 22 days he was there, Jagodzinski was able to visit places such as the Colosseum, the Vatican and the Eiffel Tower. “We went to some of the more popular areas and had a big tour,” he said. Greece was the country he liked the most.

This year, 18 Minnesota students participated in the program. Jagodzinski’s group included people from Minnesota and Montana. He said he enjoyed meeting new friends during the trip.

One memorable activity Jagodzinski recalls is playing games with the other students. “We played everything from card games to soccer to chess,” he said. “During the games, we got to know each other.”

Jagodzinski said that they tried to learn the languages of the countries they visited, but “we weren’t very good at it.”

For two days, Jagodzinski was able to do a home stay with a family from France. “It was interesting to try their food,” he said. “They eat a lot of bread and meat, and they don’t serve it the way we do. Most of the meat is served cold.”

In Italy, he remembers the food also being different. “They eat so much pasta there,” he said. “They have it all day, every day.”

In England, he said the food is more like it is in America. The only thing he noticed about food in Greece was that “they don’t have lettuce in their salad.”

Jagodzinski also learned about other cultural differences. “Everything is pretty close together. They use a lot of scooters and motorbikes,” he said.

“Gas over there is really expensive, and the smaller vehicles save room, too. That’s a plus for them.”

Jagodzinski said that his group “did a lot of walking. They would drop us off and we had to walk to our destinations.”

For more information, contact Kevin Zak, 1254 Virginia St. N, St. Paul, MN 55117, phone (651) 487-6301; or the program office at People to People Student Ambassador Program, Dwight D. Eisenhower Building, Spokane, Wash. 99202, phone (509) 534-0430.

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