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Olivia Darr reflects on European journey

| Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, 9:42 p.m.
For The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Olivia Darr, 16, of Mt. Pleasant Township looks over photos of the Eiffel Tower and The Arch De Triumph that she took when visiting Paris over the summer in October of 2012. A lanyard on the table holds pins she collected on her journey as a People to People student ambassador in a tour through Europe which included England, Ireland, Wales, France, Belgium and The Netherlands. Linda Harkcom | For The Mt. Pleasant Journal

Being part of a People to People delegation to Europe this past summer helped to broaden a Mt. Pleasant Township teen's view of the world.

Olivia Darr, 16, was part of a group of 40 teens from the United States who were chosen to be student ambassadors to Ireland, Wales, England, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

From July 7 through July 24 the group toured through the different countries learning about and experiencing their cultures.

“It definitely opened my eyes to all the other cultures. Before, I was more single-minded, but now I pay a lot more attention to what is happening elsewhere in the world,” Darr said.

The teens got to do some sightseeing in each country and were able to see first had some of the most famous buildings in the world.

“What surprised me the most was how small everything was like the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben. I just expected them to be so much bigger than they actually were,” Darr said.

Darr and other members of the group also had some outdoor adventures on the trip, including one in Wales.

“We scaled down a castle wall in Wales and that was really exhilarating,” she said.

The best part of the trip, Darr said, was visiting London, England.

“Everything there was top notch. London was at its best because we were there the week before the Olympics, so it was really neat to get to see all of the countries' flags,” she said.

Darr's mother and father, Mark and Brandi Darr, said they felt the experience was a good one for their daughter and added that she is ready to participate in the program again.

“I think she came back more mature,” Brandi Darr said.

The couple said the hardest part was not being able to talk with their daughter while she was on the trip.

“We didn't get to talk with her for three weeks. I felt a lot better when I finally got to see her pictures on Facebook and could see that she was smiling and could see that she was okay,” Brandi Darr said.

Linda Harkcom is a freelance writer.