Student will learn of life down under - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Student will learn of life down under

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June 18, 2006

Albany -- One Dougherty County student has unique summer plans, it may include earning high school and college credit at just eleven-years-old.

Steven Vaiculevich was chosen out of 500 nominees to take a trip clear across the globe and down under to Australia. It's part of a national program called People to People, created by President Dwight Eisenhower. The program shapes young minds to understand other nations.

Eleven-year-old Steven Vaiculevich doesn't know exactly why he is the only Dougherty County student taking this trip. But as a chosen one, he feels in the prime of his life.

"It's like a lifetime opportunity, so I'm actually glad this is happening, because I might not get to do it again," said Steven Vaiculevich.

He brushed up on Australian lingo, wrote papers, and became savvy on Australian government.

"It's kinda like a democracy and monarchy," said Vaiculevich.

After a series interviews, he was picked by the People to People program to represent the United States with 20 other students in the region. Although the hiatus from home will be hard for Steven, his family has a high-tech way to be in touch.

"This is the command center where we'll be tracking Steven during his 20 days in Australia," said father Ron Vaiculevich.

With calling cards and computers, Steven will share his trip with his family back home.

"It's a wonderful experience for him to be as brave, and adventurous, and courageous as he is now, I'm impressed. I'm truly impressed," said father Ron Vaiculevich.

Someone else was pretty impressed with Steven too. An unknown person from People to People nominated him for the trip.

"I'd like to say thanks for nominating me because this is going to be fun. I know it's going to be fun," said Vaiculevich.

After learning a lot of the land down under, the young ambassador is ready to experience it himself, and teach those he meets about American culture as well.

During the 20-day trip Vaiculevich will get to swim in the barrier reefs, spend time with aboriginees, and run through the rain forests of Australia. But there's also work involved with President Eisenhower's People to People program. Vaiculevich is a young ambassador representing the US trying to bring understanding between citizens of different cultures.

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