Matthews selected as student envoy

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 5, 2005

A local student will be winging her way &uot;down under&uot; this summer for three weeks, but it won’t be for a vacation. She will be representing Greenville and Fort Dale Academy as she learns, shares and

experiences life on the other side of the globe.

Britany Matthews, a 9th grader at FDA, has been selected to represent both her community and the state of Alabama as a People to People Student Ambassador to Australia.

People to People was founded in 1956 by President Dwight Eisenhower as a means to provide young people with a &uot;global classroom&uot; experience.

Britany is slated to leave the U.S. on May 29, returning on June 17. During her time in Australia, she will visit Sydney, Brisbane and tour along the nation’s western coast.

As part of a 40-person delegation from central Alabama, the teen will have the opportunity to meet with government officials, participate in educational activities, visit in Australian homes and form new bonds of friendship with other high school students.

Britany is looking forward to the opportunity to experience some of Australia’s scenic wonders.

&uot;We’re going snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef – and I am excited about climbing to the top of Sydney Bridge,&uot; she says with a smile.

While the students do no know their complete itinerary as yet, Britany says they are scheduled to spend a day with some native Aborigines and to visit a farm family during the trip.

Her parents, mom Tanya Ingram and step-father Lonzo Ingram, are both very pleased Britany is getting this opportunity.

&uot;This will definitely be an experience of a lifetime for her,&uot; says Mrs. Ingram, who admits she is both &uot;excited but nervous&uot; for her daughter, who has never before flown in a plane.

&uot;I think it’s a wonderful experience for a 15-year-old to have. I think she will learn a lot from both the other students in the group and from the people she meets in Australia,&uot; says her stepfather.

If you are wondering how this &uot;experience of a lifetime&uot; came about, it all began with a letter.

&uot;I received a letter early in the school year inviting me to a meeting to learn more about this organization…later I went back to do an interview,&uot; explains Britany.

After completing the interview, in which the teen was quizzed on her leadership skills, gathering references from teachers and filling out &uot;many forms&uot;, Britany and her family waited to hear the outcome.

A few weeks later, the good news arrived – Britany had been chosen for the program. Since then, she has been attending monthly meetings in Montgomery, getting to know her fellow ambassadors and learning more concerning her much-anticipated trip this summer.

&uot;She also has homework assignments and other projects she is given each month to do, along with oral presentations – so they keep her busy,&uot; says Britany’s mom, Tanya Ingram.

And while it’s a long time for a teen to be so far away from her family, it looks as if Britany will not have much &uot;down time&uot; to get homesick.

&uot;We have a busy schedule every day…if I can just survive this first flight, I am hoping to go other places, too,&uot; the teen says.

&uot;We hope this will build Britany’s self-confidence, teach her responsibility and build maturity,&uot; adds her step-dad.

Britany is a member of the FDA Drama Team and sings in the school chorus. She is the granddaughter of Tom and Carolyn Buchanan of Camden and Mary Sue Sellers and the late George Matthews, Jr.