DON’T ASK WHY

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DAVID VOGEL
The other day I had the great honor of receiving a letter from the People to People Student Ambassadors program.

As you can imagine, I felt very privileged to have been one of the few selected to get an offer from this organization, which was founded by Dwight D. Eisenhower.

I could tell they had me specifically in mind when they sent this letter, just by looking at the envelope. The way it was addressed had a nice personal touch:

Parents of David Vogel

Inside the envelope was a paper to RSVP for a meeting, and a nice letter I knew had been written exclusively for me, because it listed my name repeatedly.

“Dear Parents of David Vogel,” it began. “David is invited to travel and study in England, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland in 2006. Join other outstanding high school students from the Wichita area who are eligible for People to People, an educational exploration program founded by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.”

I bet YOU never got invited to travel and study in England, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland with Dwight D. Eisenhower.

In fact, it is quite an honor, as my name was chosen from what I am sure was a very rigorous procedure of finding top-quality students.

The letter said, and I quote, “David has been recommended for the honor by a teacher, former Student Ambassador or national academic listing (i.e. a list of high school students from the Wichita area).”

My ego is just swelling by reading the names of Past Honorary Chairmen: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, Ronald W. Reagan, George H. W. Bush and William J. Clinton!

In fact, George W. Bush is the current Honorary Chairman!

I’m so excited! To be chosen by all these men with middle initials! Who are they!

But anyway, by signing up I “can experience 20 days of rewarding activities and meet the people of England, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland all while earning high school or university credit.”

Apparently, on this trip to England, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland, I will have the opportunity to experience new cultures and make lifelong friends.

Supposing I accept this fantastic offer by Dwight D. Eisenhower, I will get to ride the London Eye, dare to enter the infamous Tower of London, witness the changing of the royal guard-I bet that’s one royal diaper, if you know what I mean-and meet a member of parliament! Thanks, Dwight D. Eisenhower!

I will also get to uncover clues behind the “mysterious prehistoric boulders at Stonehenge,” and ferry the English Channel to France.

Then I get to storm the coast of Normandy to trace the D-Day steps of U.S. troops in World War II, scale the heights of the Eiffel Tower and cruise the Ceine River.

Finally, I’ll get to “go local” by taking a carriage to a Belgium chocolate maker, bicycling past windmills to a Dutch cheese factory and by ascending Switzerland’s famous Schilthorn by cable car.

So I’m very excited. I bet you wish you had gotten a letter from a company founded by Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Anyway, in early October there’s a meeting where I will get to “join other interested students and their parents” to learn more about the Student Ambassador Program. But my main question was, “How much is this going to cost me?”

From talking to other people who have taken similar trips, the company sends you a bunch of fund-raising ideas and then you get to go out and raise thousands of dollars.

I’m sure this mostly consists of going door-to-door and giving total strangers the puppy-dog face and whimpering until they throw dense coins at you just to get rid of you.

But for the opportunity of getting to go to England, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland, I’m thinking it’s probably worth it.

I logged onto their Web site to find out exactly how much it will cost me, but it doesn’t say anything about pricing. So naturally, I’m assuming it’s free.

But their Web site did offer some valuable information, such as that it was founded by Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The Web site also told me I will come home with added confidence and self-esteem, gain a broader, more enlightened perspective of the world and gain important advantages for college admissions because my incredible People to People experiences leads to compelling college essays and interviews that stand out from all the rest.

Thanks, Dwight D. Eisenhower!

Their site also gives in-depth packing instructions, telling me exactly what I’ll need for all the countries that Student Ambassadors goes to.

Of course, they show the same suitcase picture for each country.

But I need to reserve a few seats at the informational meeting, which I am looking forward to. I’m going to get Dwight D. Eisenhower’s autograph.

* * *

UFO: Dwight D. Eisenhower founded the People to People organization.

Don’t ask why.

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