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Connellsville teen experiences trip of a lifetime

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A smiling Jordan Henry spent a day touring Rome as part of his 19-day trip to Europe.

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Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013, 8:46 p.m.

When Jordan Henry entered his freshman year at Connellsville Area High School this year, he had plenty to tell people about how he spent his summer vacation.

The 15-year-old experienced the trip of a lifetime, touring Europe for 19 days.

Henry was part of a group of students from all over the country who traveled to Europe as part of the People to People ambassador program, a widely recognized student travel program that offers its participants the unique opportunity of travel abroad as both an educational and enjoyable experience.

“Last November we got a letter that I had been selected for the program,” Henry said of his first notification. “We then went to a few different meetings and then they said that they would call us back in a week to let us know.”

Henry was notified he would be eligible to participate in the program and visit four different countries.

“I was excited to try it,” Henry said. “It was something that I really wanted to do.”

Henry and his family then set out to raise the needed funding, so he could take part in the once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“When he first started talking about this, we said, ‘We have to find out how we can make this possible,'” grandmother Cathy Henry said. “We ended up getting a lot of support from local businesses and individuals. We spent several months and we worked really hard getting together what Jordan needed to go.”

The family sold tickets for donated sports tickets and ended up with a total of 21 sponsors to help with the cost of the trip, which took place in July and August.

“We knew that this was a golden opportunity for him,” Cathy Henry said. “I don't know many kids his age who get to do something like this.”

Henry said that once they arrived, his whirlwind trip consisted of stays in Italy, France, Austria and Switzerland, and as an added bonus, the group also stayed in Germany.

“I tired a lot of different foods,” Henry said. “I tried snails and we went to a place where they made cheese and learned about the cheese-making process. We had cheese there that was really good and really fresh.”

Henry said his travels consisted of visits to a village that seemed to be a step back in time to medieval days, a gondola ride through the canals of Venice, a tour of Rome where he was impressed with the coliseum, and a boat ride on a lake surrounded by the Alps.

“When we were in Austria, we saw some really, really massive mountains, and I liked Vienna. It was a really pretty city,” Henry said.

Henry said the trip was one he will never forget and if ever given the chance, he would return to Europe.

“It was a lot of fun and I did learn some things while I was there,” Henry said, adding that there are several people he is grateful to for making the trip possible. “I want to thank my grandmother and my other family members who helped me to raise the money and I want to thank Linda Lewandowski who donated tickets. They all helped to make this happen for me.”

Henry is the son of Debbie and Ed Henry of Connellsville.

Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer.

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