Student prepares for trip to China

Douglas High School junior Matt Gilkerson has his sights set on a 17-day trip to China this summer as a student ambassador in the People to People program.

He's one of 60 Northern Nevada students and chaperones headed for China with a July 4 departure date.

To make the trip, Gilkerson, 17, is in the process of raising $5,299.

"My parents set up a separate bank account and they've agreed to match whatever I come up with," he said.

People to People, celebrating its 50th anniversary, was founded by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956.

The objective is to foster international understanding, and, for student ambassadors, to build leadership skills.

"I am looking forward to broadening my perspectives of the world and gaining a better understanding of Chinese culture," Gilkerson said.

During their stay, the student ambassadors meet with government officials, interact with students and stay in homes with host families. The students will travel to Beijing, Xian, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Participants have been meeting monthly since they were selected to participate to get acquainted and prepare for the trip.

He's been to Washington, D.C., with the Douglas High School band for the 2005 Inaugural parade and to Houston, Texas, with his family.

"I think about it all the time," he said of the upcoming trip. "I love to travel."

Gilkerson said it's appropriate the students leave for China on Independence Day.

"At first, I wasn't sure. Now I think it's pretty cool," he said.

He's reading everything he can get his hands on to familiarize himself with China.

"You see these things in pictures and think you'll never experience it. It should be really fun," he said.

In addition to playing saxophone in the band, Gilkerson is a junior class student representative, historian for the Key Club, student coordinator for Stand Tall Don't Fall, a member of the student board of directors for the Partnership of Community Resources and a member of Block D.


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