People To People

A student at Southwestern Central School is looking forward to his upcoming trip overseas, but this is no typical summer vacation.

Wyatt Perry, an eighth-grader, has been selected to be a student ambassador for the People to People delegation to the “Heart of Europe.”

Over a 19-day period, Wyatt will visit France, Switzerland, Austria and Italy. As part of the experience, he will have an opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes tour at the Louvre Museum in France, speak with a Holocaust survivor of the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp in Austria, meet with officials at Vatican City and live with a family in Switzerland.

“I’m looking forward to (going to) Italy because that’s where most of my family is descended from,” Wyatt said. “I think that’s going to be really interesting, and that’s probably where we’re going to be spending a lot of our time. A lot of the cities in Italy look really good.”

Wyatt said he received a letter in December saying that he had been recommended for the delegation by a former teacher, who chose to remain anonymous. After receiving two more letters of recommendation and undergoing a group interview process, Wyatt was informed in January that he had been selected for the People to People delegation.

“I have a lot of interest in social studies, and I’m respectful and I just showed the right traits of leadership to go on this trip,” he said.

The People to People program was conceived by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956. The goal of the program is to promote peace through understanding, and its mission is to “bridge cultural and political borders through education and exchange, making the world a better place for future generations.”

In order to participate in the program, Wyatt said he has had to raise his own funds – to the tune of $7,000 – to cover his expenses. He has thus far raised approximately $2,000 through recycling-themed fundraisers. He has worked to collect scrap metal, used cellphones, computer components, pop cans and plastic returnable bottles.

His primary fundraiser will be taking place on Sunday, April 28 from noon to 5 p.m. at First Lutheran Church on Chandler Street. The fundraiser will be held in the form of a spaghetti dinner, which will also include salad, bread, drinks and desserts. All of the pasta will be provided by Wing City Grille.

Presale tickets are being sold at $5 for adults and $4 for children. At the door, they will be $6 for adults and $5 for children. For those that would like to donate but cannot attend, Wyatt has worked with the church to provide donated tickets to families in need.

The dinner will also include a Chinese auction with many items from local businesses, including: Decorators Gallery, Noble Winery, Indulge Salon Spa, Fancher Chair, Mindy’s Place, Perfect Pizza, Applebee’s, Red Lobster, Pizza Hut, Jamestown Cycle Shop, Taco Hut, Welch’s, Hollyloft Ski and Bike, the Babalu Cafe and Off the Beaten Path book store.

Wyatt’s delegation will consist of 15 students from Chautauqua County and northwest Pennsylvania. The delegation will be departing on June 24.