LANCASTER- Since December, Brother and sister, Mason and Kasey Jo Phibbs, have been raising money for the opportunity of a lifetime.
And if everything goes according to plan, they will be traveling around the world this summer through the People to People Student Ambassador Program. But in order to do so, they both need to raise enough funds before they’re able to make their journey, which isn’t an easy task, but nevertheless they are taking on the challenge.
Mason, who is a freshman at Lancaster High School, will be traveling in July to England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales and his trip will last 19 days.
Mason said he has always enjoyed learning about European history and he has always wanted to visit Europe.
One of the highlights of his trip will include a home stay where he will stay at a local family’s house for a few days and interact with them in their daily lives. He will get to see how differently or the same we are here in the United States compared with the host country.
He will also visit many of the famous landmarks of London, including special access to parliament, but overall Mason said he is looking forward to visiting some of the castles and learning about medieval history.
“I enjoy learning about other cultures,” remarked Mason. “Knowledge is key.”
Mason's trip focuses on history, architecture, science, and art.
Kasey Jo, who is a sixth grade student at Lancaster, will be also traveling in July through British Columbia exploring Vancouver and other cities. There she will have the opportunity to learn about the First Nation Tribes and the Canadian political process. She will see orcas in their natural environment while learning about their habitat and behavior.
Her delegation will meet with marine biologists and an archeologist. In Alberta, she travels from Banff to Calgary. Her delegation explores Glacier National Park and the Canada Olympic Park where the Winter Games were held in 1988.
“I want to learn about different cultures around the world,” said Kasey Jo. “Mine will be about different wildlife and I’m really into animals so that really interested me. I just love seeing the different types of wildlife and learning about them,” mentioning her favorite animal is the gorilla because they’re “strong and fluffy.”
In the meantime, the program requires Mason and Kasey Jo to complete specific assignments designed to increase their learning opportunities and they have to attend orientation meetings to prepare them for their trips.
They also have to each do a service project. In May, Mason plans to help out at the Western New York Food Bank and at this point in time Kasey Jo was unsure what her service project was going to be, but had some thoughts on helping out the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper during the annual spring cleanup.
“It really could be a once in a lifetime opportunity and they’re going to gain so much maturity and it is going to provide them with so many benefits as they go forward through their education career,” said Mom, Sue Phibbs. “They’re going to meet lots of kids, other students from around the world, and really there is no down side to it other than I am going to miss them when they’re away.”
As a family who loves to travel, Sue said this really is such a unique opportunity for them.
“It really fits in with our everyday life,” commented Sue. “It almost seemed ironic that each of their trips are pretty much geared toward their personalities.”
Through the People to People program, which was founded in 1956 by Dwight D. Eisenhower to promote world peace through cultural exchange, Mason and Kasey Jo will gain so much knowledge and they both are looking forward to the experience.
They will be traveling as part of the Buffalo delegation with several group leaders and probably around 25 other kids from all over Western New York.
To go on their trips, Mason has to raise around $6,000 and Kasey Jo has to raise $4,500. Mason explained they have come up with several ways to meet their goals.
Working as a team, they are running a 50/50 raffle and the money in the pot will be split between the winner and them. Tickets are $10 each or and three for $25. For those who are interested in purchasing a ticket, you can either call 684-6002 or visit the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/PeopleToPeoplePhibbsTrips2013. The drawing will be held April 14 and weekly updates on how much the pot has increased are provided on the page.
They are also asking local businesses for help and collecting cans and bottles, which can be dropped off at the Phibbs’s home, located at 3 Stevens Ct., in the Village of Lancaster. Please place them in a bag right in front of the garage.
So far, they have raised $1,250, plus there is $380 in raffle ticket sales. Their goal is to reach $5,000 in sales.
“It is a lofty goal, but we are really hoping if the word gets out that people will want a ticket,” said Sue.
Also, during the Village Wide Garage Sale, which is held in the summertime, Mason and Kasey Jo will be selling items to benefit their trips.
“We always thought it’s been important to provide them with all kinds of worldly experiences, whether it is directly through us or other opportunities, and when this presented itself, as long as they were able to fundraise the money, we thought it would be a terrific experience for them.”