It has been a year since my son attended a trip sponsored by the People to People International program. Now that a complete picture of this experience is in front of me, I feel compelled to share this with parents who may be considering this for their child. First of all, we were sent a very impressive, formal letter informing us that our child was "selected" to be invited to take part in this People to People "Ambassador" program. Made our son, and us feel as if this was something "selective", and it was an "honor" to be invited. Red flag number one. Could not be further from the truth. I am not sure where or how P2P gets their mailing lists, but they really don't care who your child is. They only care if you can pay the very pricey $7000.00 bill. I'll get into that later. My son was first interviewed at a Round Table Pizza parlor. Red Flag number two. The teacher who interviewed him took him into the private group room, and we were not allowed to attend. When our son told us later that he just asked a few questions about "if someone did something bad, would you tell the chaperone?', and a few other questions. Obviously, they were looking for kids who would behave. We were not told if our son was selected then - all part of the "anticipation"; making you think you are part of something special. The we get another very formal, impressive letter, telling us our some was "selected". Still no mentuion of the money involved. Red flag number three. Wait until the families are really excited and feeling like they are "special" so they won't back out. Then hit them with the price tag. Then we come to the group meetings. Suddenly, the leader is changed, and admits she has never been to this country, and doesn't even speak the language. Oh, and not really sure if there will be a second chaperone, as originally planned. Fourth Red flag. Disorganized, unclear plans. Finally the price: a whopping $7000.00. And a group meeting all about "fundraising". More Red flags. Tell me, just how many car washes or babysitting jobs would it take to pay for this? I asked for a breakdown of the costs, and was given a blank look, like "what nerve" to even ask. The planning meetings took up every Saturday for 2 hours for several months, and were pretty much worthless. No itinerary was available until a week before the trip, so none of the kids could research an area. They used their time (and their parents) breaking up into groups thinking about all the words that defined "ambassador", using the letters in "Ambassador". They watched an old propaganda video about People to People. They never met with the Seattle group, which was combined with the Tacoma group at the last minute - probably to save money. The trip was anything but "special". You would think for $7000.00, these kids would get something better being packed into tour buses, herded to tourist destinations, given a time limit and herded back into the bus. Because of the large group, it was alot of waiting in line for these kids. My son could have visited this country, with his parents, and stayed in a four star hotel for the cost of this "trip of a lifetime". Did I say he was also robbed? All of his spending money was taken from his backpack on the bus. This was never addressed to the group when my son reproted it. Just a "oh, that's too bad. You should have kept your backpack with you" From a bus with only P2P kids, and the counselor never addressed the group. Needless to say, my son was homesick. He was placed in a hotel room with two other boys, who made fun of him. I spoke with the counselor, and she told me she would talk to my son. What she did was ask him to not call home for the remainder of the trip, which he dutifully did. He continued to be homesick, but did not feel comfortable talking to the counselor about it. He told me that everytime he felt homesick, he would just "bite his lip" so he wouldn't cry. By the time he got home, his lip had been bleeding fro several days. He was paired up with a developmentally delayed child who refused to bathe for the entire two weeks. My son refuses to talk about the trip now. It took several months for him to open up and discuss some of the details of the trip. It was apparent to me that P2P is not "selective". Some of the kids were disrespectful with foul language and name calling. One was Autistic and required extra help (at the expense of the others). It was obvious that this was not a select group. I don't believe P2P even cares if the counselors are well prepared or trained, and I think most of them do this for a "free trip", not because they want to provide a rich experience for kids. I think People to People started out with the right vision, but has strayed, and someone is making money from it all. Had I known all of this, I never would have put my son in this program, and I can't sleep some nights knowing how miserable he was. How could I have done that? Why didn't I trust my gut feeling? I hope other parents see this and think twice when they get "the letter". Use the money to take your child on a trip with YOU, and it will be money well spent.