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UCHS freshmen get close-up look at Europe

By Kayla Carter
Staff Writer
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Two of Unicoi County’s rising freshmen embarked on a grand tour of Europe for three weeks this summer through a government-instituted program called People to People.
Trey Parsley and Carter Powers said their mission for the trip was to represent their country the best way they knew how and learn about cultures outside of their own.
“The program wants students to visit other countries and set a good example for America,” said Parsley.
Parsley said it was Powers who enabled him to experience the trip overseas.
“He got recommended and then he recommended me to go,” he said. Parsley said he had never heard of the program before Powers recommended him.
“At first I didn’t really know what to think,” he said. “I went and looked at it and researched it a little bit to figure out what it was. It looked like a pretty interesting program.”
Powers said he received a letter in the mail about the program in October. “We get a bunch of these types of letters,” he said. “This was the first one we actually took seriously.”
Powers said he was excited to have Parsley with him throughout the experience. “It was good to have a friend there because there were a lot of people there that you didn’t know,” he said. “It was just good to have someone I could talk to.”
Parsley said they have been friends since they were younger and he was happy that Powers was there, too.
“We’ve been good friends ever since we were little,” he said. “When you first get there it’s really awkward because you don’t know anybody there. It’s just nice to have someone to hang out with.”
They both said they made lasting relationships with others who went on the trip. Powers said there were a total of 42 students on the trip, from various parts of Tennessee and Minnesota.
“It’s good to have new friends,” Powers said. “But, we also aren’t going to see the other kids from Minnesota as often so it was sad that we had to leave them.”
Parsley said everyone on the trip was worth being friends with. “They are all good kids,” he said. “It will definitely be good to keep in touch with them.”
Parsley said he noticed many differences in the European culture when he arrived and upon returning on July 8 he was able to reflect on them.
“I learned how life is just a lot different over there,” he said. “It’s a lot less commercialized and the cities are big. They are packed with people.”
Powers said building a raft at a sailing academy in Wales was one of the most memorable tasks he was able to complete alongside Parsley. “We also rappelled off of a castle,” he said. “It was in Wales.”
Parsley said he, too, had many experiences worth remembering, such as visiting Anne Frank’s house in Normandy and Bastogne in Belgium, where the Siege of Bastogne took place.
“We saw how they had to live during World War II and what they had to deal with,” he said. “It was really interesting.”
Parsley said he enjoyed viewing the entire city of Paris from the Eiffel Tower as well.
“It was awesome,” he said. “You could see the whole city from the top. It was built so long ago and it’s still standing.”
Parsley said accommodations were arranged for them in all the various places they visited.
“While we were in Ireland we stayed in a guest house,” he said. “The family there was really nice. They made breakfast for us.”
Ireland was another of Parsley’s favorite destinations, if not his most favorite.
“It was really green and the weather was really nice there,” he said. “It reminded me a lot of here.”
Parsley said he learned a very important lesson through an international program in Wales called Full On. “We learned that when you focus on something, it can really change the way you do it,” he said. “It taught you that if you focus on something and set your mind to it you can always achieve it.”
Powers said compared to going into high school next year, the trip will help him to remember to stay level-headed.
“It taught me to just expect the unexpected,” he said. “You don’t always know what’s going to happen.”
Overall, Powers and Parsley said the opportunity helped them to make new lasting relationships and helped to strengthen their own friendship as well. “It’s just a really good program that allows you to meet other kids from around the country and around the world,” said Powers. “I hope sometime to do it again in the future.”