by Dennis Dalman
It’s not many 14-year-old boys who can say they’ve been to England three times and to Paris once in their young lives, but Aiden Hammond of Sartell not only did, but he’s about to take a trip “Down Under” – to the faraway land of Australia.
Hammond was named by the People to People organization to be a student ambassador to Australia. People to People, now in its 50th year, is a travel program that promotes world peace and cultural understanding by allowing young people – fifth-grade to college age – to travel to other countries for learning experiences. The young “ambassadors” spend time in one or more of 40 countries on seven continents of the world.
Aiden will fly to Australia sometime next summer, although the exact date has not yet been set. Meantime, he is involved with raising funds to help pay for the long trip. From 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 16, he will wrap Christmas gifts at Celebration Lutheran Church, of which he and his family are members. People can bring their gifts to the church to be wrapped, the price depending on the package size. Aiden and his family also plan to hold pasta-feed and pancake-dinner fundraisers in the near future.
Aiden, an eighth-grader at Sartell Middle School, is very excited about the Australia trip because he knows how rewarding the People to People trips are. That’s because his sister, Ayleigh, now a seventh-grader, was an ambassador to both England and France a couple of years ago.
“She made so many friends while she was there,” Aiden said.
Aiden will first visit Sydney, where he will get a chance to tour that great city, including its dazzling opera house at the harbor’s edge, its vast and famous bridge and other interesting places. He will also visit an animal hospital and meet many of Australia’s unique animals, such as kangaroos and koala bears. During his 19-day trip, he will spend a few days with an Australian family and partake in any and all of their daily activities, and later he will also get a chance to see other fabulous sights, such as one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, the Great Barrier Reef.
“I’m kind of nervous but I’m very excited,” Aiden said about his upcoming trip. “I’m excited to go there and meet the people, but I’m also nervous because it’s so far away and really different.”
Aiden is the son of Amy and Kevin Hammond. Kevin hails from England, and the family has been three times to Peterborough (80 miles north of London) to visit Aiden’s grandparents. On one of those visits, Aiden was only 5 when the family crossed the English Channel to visit Paris. Aiden’s last trip to England was during Christmas vacation, 2013.
In school, Aiden’s favorite subjects are math and science; he also enjoys swimming and playing soccer. Someday, he hopes to become an engineer.