A Boca Ciega High senior learns what unites, and separates, people half a world away by traveling with a group dedicated to improving international understanding.
Egyptians have a saying: "Once you see the Nile once, you always come back."
Timothy Medeiros, 18, a senior at Boca Ciega High School in St. Petersburg, learned that firsthand when he journeyed to Egypt in mid December with about 65 other students in a group called People to People International.
Medeiros described People to People as a "global organization that preaches equality to all through its peace camps, youth forums, as well as adult and student chapters all over the world." The chief executive officer is Mary Eisenhower, granddaughter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who founded the organization in 1956. Since then, thousands of people have participated in adult and student exchange programs, chapter activities and conferences.
XPress asked Medeiros a few questions about his involvement in the group and his journey to Egypt.
XPRESS: How did you get involved?
MEDEIROS: I first started with People to People International when I went to Australia with the Student Ambassador Program (in 2002). As a result of that program, I was given a one-year membership.
XPRESS: When were you first approached to take this trip to Egypt? Why did you take it?
MEDEIROS: Applications for the trip were sent to select individuals at the end of the school year last year. I was informed I was going on the trip in September. I chose to take the slot because I wanted to see Egypt and its sights, make new friends and quell the attitude of the "evil American" by showing them what we are really like.
XPRESS: What parts of Egypt did you travel through?
MEDEIROS: We first traveled to Cairo after our 12-hour layover in London. After Cairo we went to Aswan, then sailed up the Nile to Luxor. After Luxor we flew to Sharm El Sheikh (the city of peace as designated by UNESCO), then back to Cairo, then home.
XPRESS: Did you get to see any pyramids or temples?
MEDEIROS: We got to see the pyramids and quite a few temples, including (one devoted) to crocodiles.
XPRESS: What are the people in Egypt like? Does an Egyptian teenager's life differ any from an American's, and if it does, how so?
MEDEIROS: (Egyptian teens) are surprisingly like us. The people themselves are very friendly, more so than I expected.
XPRESS: What was the most unusual thing you saw in Egypt?
MEDEIROS: How they drive. They drive on the same side of the road. . . . It seems there is a lack of driving laws.
XPRESS: If you could, would you go back to Egypt?
MEDEIROS: They have a saying, "Once you see the Nile once, you always come back." I would love to go back. It was great.
XPRESS: Do you have plans after school? Are you interested in becoming an adult member of People to People International? What career do you plan on pursuing after high school?
MEDEIROS: After high school I plan to continue to be a member. . . . I plan to become an officer in the best military service, the U.S. Air Force, after completing my bachelor of science degree in applied meteorology from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
XPRESS: Did your trip change the way you view the world around you? If it did, how so?
MEDEIROS: It did. I never really realized how different (we are) and how much we have in common with those half the world away.
XPRESS: One last thing. Did you have to pay for yourself to go on this trip, or was it free?
MEDEIROS: All I had to pay was to go to (Washington) D.C., as well as incidentals.
- Meghan Godbout, 16, is in 10th grade at Seminole High School.
To learn more
To find out more about People to People International, visit its Web site at www.ptpi.org or write People to People International, 501 E Armour Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64109.