People to People trip has Battlement Mesa youth ‘super excited’
Citizen Telegram Editor
BATTLEMENT MESA – Levi Williamson may get to visit six countries in 20 days this summer.
But the 12-year-old sixth-grader at Grand Valley Middle School wouldn’t be just a casual tourist.
“I get to do a community service project to help the people in one of the countries,” Williamson said on Monday, Jan. 27. “And we learn how to show respect to the people there. I like art, so I want to learn all about the different cultures.”
The only thing standing in the way of the enthusiastic would-be world traveler is what you might think: He needs to raise $6,000 by the end of March to take part in the trip. It is organized by the People to People program that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt started in 1956, during the height of the Cold War, as a way to “give everyday citizens of different countries the opportunity to meet and get to know each other, and the result will be understanding, friendship and lasting peace,” according to the program’s web site.
Williamson, who said he works hard in school and makes “really good grades,” is the only child of Lonnie and Becky Williamson. The family moved to Colorado from West Virginia in 2008.
Williamson was nominated by one of his teachers to travel with the People to People program to Europe as a Young Ambassador. The countries on the trip itinerary are England, France, Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands and Germany.
Becky Williamson said 20 middle school-aged students from across the U.S. are hoping to go on the trip, including some from Montrose, Delta, Glenwood Springs, and the states of Utah and Oregon.
“They’ve already been getting together once a month,” Becky Williamson said, for orientation meetings both in-person and online, where students learn about the countries they will visit, activities they will take part in and expectations on safe and successful travel. The program web site states students also complete specific assignments designed to increase the learning opportunities, “months before a student ever gets on a plane.”
Levi Williamson, in a letter he sent to businesses in Garfield County seeking financial help for the trip, said he was “super excited about the community service portion of the trip. I can’t wait to help clean the beaches of Normandy.”
This year marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy during World War II. It will be commemorated by many world leaders and hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world from June through the end of August, according to a web site promoting the anniversary.
Levi Williamson said one of his favorite subjects at school is social studies, especially geography, so he will have a chance to see and learn about the countries he can identify on a world map.
Becky Williamson said the trip will also feature different transportation methods, including trains, boats and bicycles.
So far, her son has raised close to $2,500, with an additional $4,500 needed by the end of March. Levi Williamson raised the money through door-to-door sales of cutlery and plans to sell raffle tickets for Valentine’s Day gift baskets, along with flower bulbs.
“It’s kind of scary to send my kid on such a long trip by himself,” Becky Williamson said. “But once they explained the program, we felt very comfortable. It’s a neat program. And this should really be amazing for his education.”
“I think this experience will benefit me in many ways,” Levi Williamson wrote in his letter. “It will help me to understand different cultures. It will boost up my self-confidence and leadership skills. And, it will allow me to meet new friends who I hope to stay in contact with for my whole life.”
Anyone willing to help Levi Williamson raise money for his People to People trip can call Becky Williamson at (970) 274-1686.
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