Brent Ruttle, a junior at Payson High School, is headed overseas this summer, but he's leaving his weapons behind.
The weapons, in fact, will be part of the big raffle Ruttle and his parents are holding to help raise the $5,000 he needs to cover his tuition and other expenses. And while the U.S. is at war with Iraq, Ruttle hopes his trip, as part of the People to People Student Ambassador Program, will help to promote a greater understanding among people of different nationalities.
"When you get to know the people from other countries and they get to know you and where you're coming from, it's not just like they only know what your government thinks," Ruttle said. "We're going to France and Germany, for example, and I doubt that everybody over there hates us. I want to get to know the people."
Besides France and Germany, the itinerary also includes Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Ruttle will leave June 18 and return July 8. The People to People program was founded by former president and World War II hero Dwight Eisenhower.
Ruttle and the other young people chosen to participate serve as student ambassadors, while also gaining a new perspective on themselves, their surroundings and life in general. They return home with a greater interest in current affairs, cultural diversity, and our own American heritage.
Ruttle, who hopes to study engineering in college, will travel to Europe with a group of eight other students from throughout Arizona. While there, he'll see Paris from atop the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, take in da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" at the Louvre, visit Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, wander through Bruges with its medieval bridges and canals, and ascend Schilthorn Mountain in the Swiss Alps by cable car.
Ruttle will stay in the heart of mountaineering and alpine skiing country while in Switzerland. Since snowboarding is one of his favorite leisure pastimes, it's a portion of the journey he's especially looking forward to.
The trip also includes a four-day home stay, where Ruttle will actually live as a member of a local family in one of the countries he is visiting. Host families include their American guests in every day activities so they gain a firsthand understanding of the ways people live and work in other cultures.
Once back home, Ruttle hopes to make presentations on his trip to civic groups and other organizations.
But first there's the fundraising, and the Ruttles are banking on the raffle to raise the money that will make the trip possible. Prizes include a Hoyt USA bow, a Remington shotgun, a CVA muzzleloader, a large western art print, and an amethyst ring and pendant.
Tickets are $10 and can by purchased by calling the Ruttles at 472-7186. For more information, e-mail Brent at firstname.lastname@example.org.