Two RHS students participate in international program

 

Russellville ninth grade student Louis Monterrosa poses in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. Monterrosa and fellow student Austin Darling took part in an international program known as People to People this summer and traveled to Europe. | Contributed

 

A group of 41 students from Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Alabama were nominated by their teachers to cross the Atlantic Ocean and take part in the People to People International program to receive college and high school credit.

Russellville students Louis Monterroso and Austin Darling took part in the three-week trip, which took them all over Europe with one of the highlights of the trip taking them to Omaha Beach, where they witnessed a ceremony commemorating those who fought in World War II.

Monterroso said both he and Darling were nominated by a teacher from the Russellville City School system to make the trip overseas and believes that having good grades is what spurred the nomination.

The purpose of People to People International, based out of Spokane, Wash., is to enhance international understanding and friendship through educational, cultural and humanitarian activities involving the exchange of ideas and experiences directly among peoples of different countries and diverse cultures.

Darling and Monterroso took the trip June 27 and arrived back in the states on July 16.

Monterroso, 14, said he had never been to Europe and believed it to be one of the greatest experiences in his life.

“We had lots of hikes, got to meet prominent members of Parliament and got to visit the ‘Peace Palace,’” he said. “I also got the chance to play soccer with some of the locals, which I thought was really cool.”

Monterroso said his parents helped him with tuition to take the trip and that he had worked some odd jobs to scrap up funds to go.

Monterroso said part of the trip consisted of a homestead in Germany and said he couldn’t believe how similar the culture was compared to America.

“The main reason I wanted to go at first was to visit the cities,” he said. “But now looking back at my trip I was surprised by how much they really look up to the U.S. and it seemed to me that they pretty much try to follow what we do here.”

People to People International is dedicated to enhancing cross-cultural communication within each community, and across communities and nations. Tolerance and mutual understanding are central themes. While not a partisan or political institution, PTPI supports the basic values and goals of its founder, President Eisenhower that is to prevent war by learning about each other.

Monterroso said the trip gave him a sense of independence and if he ever got the chance to go again, he would take off in a heartbeat.

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