Shykeem Bing has been given an opportunity to go to China this summer while earning high school credit with a chance to earn college credit.
One day, he got a letter from People to People Ambassador Programs which stated that someone had nominated the North Augusta Middle School eighth-grade pupil for the program.
“I was actually a little unsure about it,” said his mother, Shea Stephens, after she first read the letter. “I honestly thought, ‘Is this a glorified vacation? What is it about? What are they going to do?’ ”
Shykeem was just as surprised. “It was kind of shocking,” the 13-year-old said. “China is like a long way from here, but I was pretty excited.”
The letter said nominees are chosen because they demonstrate “leadership and citizenship, a desire to learn about diverse cultures, and a willingness to venture into the world in the name of peace, friendship and understanding.”
It will be his first trip overseas. He said he looks forward to exploring China and visiting the different sites. The Forbidden City is at the top of his list, as he studied about it in social studies and will now have the opportunity to see it in person.
They will also learn calligraphy and go to a Chinese school, among other activities.
The 17-day trip is June 26 through July 12, and includes other students from the area. While he’s in China, Shykeem will be responsible for maintaining a journal and is expected to present what he learned to the community when he returns.
Shykeem had to pass an initial interview to be accepted into the program. He was asked why he wanted to go and why he deserved to go.
“I told them I want to go because I felt like it would be a great experience to meet and learn about new people.”
Stephens said her son is great with people of all backgrounds. “I’m happy for him to go, and I am interested in seeing how he’s going to come back,” she said.
The trip will cost about $6,700, so the family is holding fundraisers. One way people can help is to donate old cell phones and ink cartridges.
Stephens also plans to hold a raffle this month in which people can donate $1 to enter to win gift cards ranging from $50 to $100 for area businesses. Also, in March, there will be a yard sale to which people can donate items or set up a table for $10.
Search “Shykeem Bing, Student Ambassador” on Facebook for fundraiser information.
For more information, visit peopletopeople.com, or contact Stephens at firstname.lastname@example.org.