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Washington Voices

Area students win trips through Ambassador Programs

It was two of the longest days in Autumn Bergman’s life. For 48 hours she had to keep a big secret from her 13-year-old daughter, Ayesha Bergman.

Ayesha was one of the winners of the People to People Ambassador Programs international travel video contest. Her prize: a 21-day trip overseas with the program this summer.

“They called me and told me and they said I couldn’t tell her,” Bergman said. “I felt like I couldn’t look at her because she’d know.”

When a group of photographers, reporters and representatives from People to People Ambassador Programs and Spokane Public Schools walked into the eighth-grader’s classroom at Garry Middle School on Friday to surprise her, she quickly figured out what was going on.

“I saw all my family there and I thought, ‘I knew I wasn’t in trouble, so why are they here?’ ” Ayesha said later. “I’m just so excited.”

People to People asked students from the Inland Northwest to submit a 60 second video about why they’d like to travel, incorporating the phrase “I have a dream” and explaining what global citizenship means to them.

Gary Stokes, general manager of KSPS Public Television, was one of the contest judges.

He said he was positively surprised by the thought entrants put into the video and how entrants embraced the idea of global citizenship.

“Ayesha stood out as confident, caring and compassionate, and she’s really smart,” Stokes said.

Ayesha wasn’t sure where she’d like to travel.

“I’m thinking maybe Spain or Ecuador – I don’t know – I want to go everywhere,” Ayesha said. “I’m excited to meet new cultures and new people. And to share about my trip.”

The other trip winner is Logan Stinebaugh, a junior at Lakeside High School, whose video presentation focused on helping refugees living in Spokane become well integrated.

Stinebaugh said in his video that he would like to help refugees settling in Spokane overcome the cultural differences.

“People can’t relate to how they feel,” Stinebaugh said, explaining that traveling overseas and experiencing a different culture firsthand would expand his cultural intelligence.

“Having lived without the means to travel, I never had a chance to become a global citizen until now,” Stinebaugh said.

Ayesha said her main inspiration came from the saying, “There is only one race, the human race.”

And, she explained she’d like to be like Barbie.

“That may sound weird, but Barbie is a doctor and a vet and she can do anything,” Ayesha said. “And everyone knows about her. I want to be like that.”

Ayesha is on Garry’s basketball and volleyball teams. She has a pink cast on her right hand because she recently broke a finger during practice, not that it slows her down much. She said her favorite subjects are math and history.

Her stepdad, Eddie Canty, said Ayesha is an inspiration to other people.

“She works so hard. She loves school and she has always been exceptional,” Canty said.

Humble and slightly embarrassed about all the attention, Ayesha hugged her mom repeatedly.

“Please don’t cry mom,” she said, laughing, “You always work so hard for us.”

Bergman wiped a few tears, beaming with pride.

“Keep reaching for the stars,” she said. “I know you’ll keep doing bigger and better things.”