People to People program nominates 8th grader for student ambassador
By Pixie Sulser
In September of 2004, Naomi Neal, then 6 years old, found herself featured in the Ramona Sentinel as the winner of the McDonald’s Back to School contest where her prize was a basket of school supplies “almost as big as her” reminisced her parents, Tim and Eileen Neal.
Naomi was quoted as saying that she had never won anything before — to which the reporter made the observation that “being only 6, the chances were pretty good Naomi would win a few more things in the future.”
That’s a prediction that has come true. Naomi, now an eighth-grader and 4.0 student at Olive Peirce Middle School, received a nomination to join the People to People organization on a good will trip to Europe in July 2012.
“I have no idea how I was nominated,” said Naomi. “The nomination just came in the mail one day!”
People to People, organized in 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, believes that direct interaction between ordinary citizens around the world can promote cultural understanding and world peace. The group selects student ambassadors to participate in their yearly programs taking place on seven continents.
Over 21 days Neal’s journey will take her to Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England.
“We stay with host families and have an opportunity to really see how other people live so that we learn to respect other cultures and can come back to our communities to share our experiences,” explained Naomi.
The basket of school supplies Naomi won several years ago was free to the lucky winner, but this newest honor has a price.
The People to People organization arranges all travel, but participants must cover their expenses totaling approximately $7,000.
Through family, friends and odd jobs, Naomi has raised a little over half of the total amount needed.
She is reaching out to her hometown community of Ramona to help her raise the remaining funds.
Individuals, businesses, or community organizations wishing to help Naomi meet her goal may send donations to her home address: Naomi Neal, 26652 Little Page Road, Ramona, CA 92065.
- People to People Student Ambassadors
- Eighth-grader plays in Chapman University’s Honor Band
- Taylor Uekert is Commended Student in 2012 National Merit Scholarship Program
- Kiwanis Student of the Month
- Student of the Month
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