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Youth tour participant reflects on summer of 'firsts'.

This summer was full of firsts: my first time flying on a plane, my first visit to Washington D.C., and my first time making a friend outside of Texas, just to name a few. Everything is fresh in my mind. It's amazing! There was so much to take in that I still contemplate all my experiences.

The Foundation for Rural Service Youth Tour, held June 2-6, was full of interesting activities. From the moment I first arrived, everything was set for a great time. The trip provided me with an opportunity to break the ice and start making friends. Believe it or not, the first night's barbecue dinner was the number one conversation starter. After all, everyone had their own ideas of what foods should be on the menu. In the end, we enjoyed ourselves, caring little for what a barbecue was.

The second day in Washington, D.C., was entirely sightseeing. We visited Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington. It was incredible walking through the same grounds as our first president. We then headed to the Smithsonian Museums. Being an art lover, I visited the National Gallery of Art. I couldn't help but smile as I saw the works of Raphael, Monet and even Leonardo da Vinci! But, that wasn't all; I also visited the National Air and Space Museum, where everything from Susan B. Anthony's gavel to Kermit the Frog to Dorothy's ruby red slippers were featured in the "Treasures of American History" exhibition. [This exhibit is on view at the National Air and Space Museum while the National Museum of American History is closed for renovation.]

Later that day, we ate dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe, followed by a night tour of national monuments. It was spectacular to stand at the foot of Lincoln's Memorial and to run my hand across the Vietnam Memorial Wall. One thing is for sure: not even the constant rain that poured that day could make the trip less enjoyable.

The next day was a "business day," as our coordinator stated. The morning featured educational sessions on telecommunications. I realized that rural America should be very thankful for all the effort our telcos make in getting telecommunications up to date for us.

After lunch, we headed to Arlington National Cemetery. There were endless rows of white headstones, but instead of feeling sad, I felt the fervor of the American people even more. Later that day, we visited the National Zoo where a pair of panda bears really brightened things up. The fun continued that night, as we all went bowling with our new friends.

The last whole day in D.C. was another day for business. We visited the Capitol! Of course, we had more educational sessions on how our nation functions, but since I had taken a dual-credit course on government the past spring, these were extremely enjoyable. The day ended with a farewell dinner, dance and many goodbyes.

Although Washington, D.C., was an extraordinary experience, I was glad to get back home to my nice rural town. I know this experience is definitely one I will never forget, so I feel grateful to my sponsor Central Texas Telephone Cooperative (Goldwaithe, Texas).

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

By Noemi Martinez, student (Sponsored by Central Texas Telephone Cooperative)

Editor's Note: A Call for Submissions

Have a story idea you would like to see addressed in the next issue of "The Exchange"? Let us know. The Exchange is a great place to spotlight your company's community involvement or share good news with others. To submit an article or pass along an idea, please contact Tennille Shields, senior writer/editor, at 703-351-2097 or tshields@ntca.org.
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Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Martinez, Noemi
Publication:The Exchange
Date:Aug 1, 2007
Words:613
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