by Dennis Dalman
Ayleigh Hammond of Sartell will attend a year of high school “Down Under,” in the nation of Australia.
For Hammond, who loves to travel and learn about foreign cultures, it’s a dream come true.
The traveling-learning bug bit her in the summer before seventh grade when she had a chance to do some cultural-enrichment traveling in England and France. That experience was part of the Young Ambassadors exchange program.
Earlier this year, yearning to travel and study abroad once again, Hammond did some internet research into the Council of International Educational Exchange.
“I wanted to go to an English-speaking country because I didn’t think I could learn a language fast enough to do well in my studies,” she said.
Finally, after more research, she had her heart set on Australia, a country she’d studied in seventh grade.
“I learned the people there are very friendly, and there is a lot of warm weather.”
Hammond will leave July 8, first flying to Los Angeles International Airport, then boarding another plane for the very long flight to Australia. She will spend 10 months there, her junior year in high school, returning home April 26.
While attending school, she will live in Brisbane, a city on the island nation’s southeast coast. Her host family she will live with is the Spriggs – parents Chris and Monique and their two daughters – Victoria, 13; and Charlotte, 13.
“The mother works in some kind of office, and the dad is a coal miner,” Thompson noted.
Thompson’s own family is comprised of parents Kevin and Amy Hammond and her brothers Aiden, 17, and Keagan, 13.
Kevin is a funeral director at the Miller Carlin Funeral Home in St. Cloud, and Amy is assistant director of nursing at Country Manor in Sartell.
Kevin was born in England, Amy in North Dakota. They met at a summer camp, fell in love and married.
Hammond is very active in school and extracurriculars. She has participated in track and field sports of shotput and discus and in Nordic skiing and soccer. Her favorite subjects are math and science, and she hopes to work in the field of engineering after college. She is especially thrilled about studying in Australia because it’s an ideal place to learn about marine biology, a subject she highly enjoys.
She admits she might get a bit lonesome for family and friends.
“I’ll miss them,” she said. “But at the same time, I’m really excited and happy about this amazing opportunity. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It will be so exciting to meet new people and get to know my second family. I’m sure I will get a fuller view of the world, like I did on my trip to Europe, and studying in Australia will help me grow as a person.”
There is a gofundme page to help Hammond with some of the expenses of her trip. Go to gofundme, then in the search bar type Ayleigh Hammond. There will be a pop-up called “Ayleigh’s Study Abroad Experience.” Click on that.