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Gaston students raise cash for chance at travel


Teens will travel to Europe next summer as student ambassadors

Two Gaston High School juniors have the chance to explore Michelangelo’s art, visit the Parthenon and the Sistine Chapel, dance in Greece and see Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower.

But to get there they’ll each have to raise $7,800.

Cole Waibel and Katia Bartholomew were nominated and accepted to travel to Paris, Italy and Greece for 20 days next summer through the People to People Ambassador Program.

The teens were nominated anonymously to participate in the program, which was started by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956 to promote peace by bridging cultural and political divides.

Waibel and Bartholomew will represent the U.S. on their journey with the goal of forming a connection between countries.

“She’ll have the opportunity to see exciting places and learn and grow as a person,” said Michele Bartholomew, Katia’s mom. “They’ll learn about how other people live and understand a perspective from another culture.”by: COURTESY PHOTO - Katia Bartholomew and Cole Waibel held a dog wash in October to fundraise for their 2014 trip to Europe, and theyll hold another one in November.

Katia has traveled before with her family, and last summer she journeyed to Germany by herself to stay with a friend.

“I love going to different countries and learning about their cultures, looking at architecture and learning about their ways of life,” Katia said. “It’s always a lot different than the U.S.”

Waibel and Bartholomew will stay with host families and participate in service projects while they travel.

“I hope I get to learn about cultures and help people while I’m there,” said Katia, a member of Ignite at Gaston High School, a group that helps seventh-graders avoid drugs and cope with bullying. “I like making people happy and helping people out.”

Cole, who has traveled to Japan on a basketball trip, enjoys seeing the world. It forces him out of his comfort zone and pushes him to interact with and learn from people of other cultures, he said.

“It’s a phenomenal program,” said Khrystia Waibel, Cole’s mom. “Hopefully by traveling he’ll get a chance to learn to work alongside people from other countries and learn to compete for jobs.”

To help fund his trip, Waibel is using the woodworking skills he picked up in Gaston’s woodshop class to handcraft wine stoppers and pens he plans to sell at local stores and wineries this holiday season.

Waibel and Bartholomew are also hosting a dog wash at Companion Pet Clinic from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 24. Bring Fido to get washed up in time for the holidays. They’ll also be collecting Christmas trees after the holidays for a donation, chipping them up and selling the shavings. For more information about the tree fundraiser, contact Wayne at 503-913-6000.