Games selected as an Australian ambassador
Aspen Times Staff Writer
A local middle school student is about to get a lesson in international relations.
Ryan Games, a seventh-grader at Aspen Community School, was recently accepted to the People to People Student Ambassador program. Through the program, Games and other students will tour Australia in June, exploring the culture and exchanging ideas with peers.
The student ambassador program was created by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 as a way to combat the tense climate of the Cold War, Games said.
“He thought younger people could make a bigger difference than older people, because they don’t care about issues like that,” he said. “He wanted to send children to foreign countries to explore new places and make new friends.”
Thousands of American children – mostly middle and high school students – have been accepted as People to People ambassadors over the years. They have met foreign counterparts as well as dignitaries such as Queen Elizabeth II and Nelson Mandela.
The program motto even inspired Walt Disney, an early People to People collaborator, to create the popular “It’s a Small World” attraction for his theme park.
Games learned about the program last year when an acquaintance recommended him as a possible People to People ambassador. He and 400 other Colorado kids were invited to attend a group meeting in Denver to learn more about the organization.
The meeting encouraged Games to quickly complete his People to People application and the required essay on ambassador conduct. He also sat through several interviews and evaluations with organization leaders.
His hard work was rewarded a few weeks ago when he learned he was one of just 40 students chosen to participate in the program’s Australian adventure.
Games will leave in June for a three-week tour of the country. The student ambassadors will meet with indigenous tribes, explore the Great Barrier Reef and make a stop in Sydney for a taste of city life.
“We’ll travel all along the coast line, meet government officials and travel to see aboriginal tribes, and learn about what’s in Australia,” Games said.
He is especially excited about a group sleepover with an Australian homestead family. The People to People ambassadors will spend a few days learning about the country’s agriculture and customs, Games said.
Upon his return, Games must give a presentation of his People to People journal to teach his peers about Australia. This presentation, along with activities on the trip, will also help Games earn high school class credit.
He has spent some time preparing for the trip – a classmate from Australia has prepared him for the people and places, and People to People has provided guide materials.
All that’s left now is the fund-raising.
Games needs just under $5,000 for the trip to cover airfare and ground travel. He’s trying his best to earn his own way – he’s spent time working for his father, Dr. Adolfo Games, at the Aspen Valley Veterinary Hospital performing odd jobs around the clinic. He’s still looking for trip sponsors, however, who would like to underwrite his Australian adventure.
“This program’s really great – I’ll meet new friends, learn the culture and have a good time,” Games said.
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Comedy, dog sculptures and pet-friendly happy hours come to Base Village. Plus, the Elk Camp gondola opens June 21.