• Report: #772011

Complaint Review: People to People International Student Ambassador Program

  • Submitted: Thu, September 01, 2011
  • Updated: Tue, September 13, 2011

  • Reported By: K.K. — Liberty Missouri United States of America
People to People International Student Ambassador Program
1956 Ambassador Way Spokane, Washington United States of America

People to People International Student Ambassador Program Ummm, no. Spokane, Washington

*Consumer Comment: People to People was an amazing Exeperience

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My 11-year-old daughter, who was jumping around and screaming OMG, OMG, just handed me a letter from People to People International Student Ambassador Program. She thought for sure she was hand-selected for this special program to travel the world on behalf of the United States. 

I am a news journalist, so my first instinct was to question this program. Indeed, it is a scam. The program does not have, in any way, shape or form, any connection to the United States government, any U.S. school district or any other U.S. educational institution. 

People to People, PTP, simply is a student travel agency that books all-inclusive trips that are geared toward students. The all-inclusive trips are not free or subsidized by the U.S. government or any U.S. educational institution.

In fact, the costs of the People to People all-inclusive trips are inflated by as much as 275 percent of what a normal family all-inclusive vacation would cost. For the cost of the PTP England vacation for one child, my family of four would be able to go on an all-inclusive Caribbean vacation for four weeks.

As I finished my investigation of the PTP travel agency, I calmly told my disappointed daughter about the real deal. Although she was disappointed that the U.S. government did not hand-pick her for a travel trip, she much preferred spending the money for a family all-inclusive vacation. Who says that the United States no longer has family values?? LOL  

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 09/01/2011 02:44 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/People-to-People-International-Student-Ambassador-Program/Spokane-Washington-/People-to-People-International-Student-Ambassador-Program-Ummm-no-Spokane-Washington-772011. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 Consumer Comment

People to People was an amazing Exeperience

AUTHOR: ivoice - (United States of America)

I was surprised to see that so many people have complained about People to People that I thought it would be helpful to write about our experience as my daughter has been on two P2P trips and enjoyed them both.

My daughter went to China in 2008 and Australia, New Zealand and Fiji in 2009. She would have gone in 2010 to the Galapagos Islands but the counselor who she grew close to was reassigned to a destination that my daughter had already visited.

As I can tell by reading many of the complaints, the general anger is in the way People to People notifies the students and their families that they have been "selected" because of their outstanding accomplishments. 

These complaints while valid are no different than most marketing ploys used by many reputable companies to gain attention. I get the fact that they are playing on the emotions of a child so the practice is viewed as misleading, no argument with me there. The truth is that it is really no different than the direct mail materials I get monthly from American Express Travel telling me that since I am such a great customer, they want to offer me a discounted rate to some exotic island. They probably should tone down the rhetoric but I guess it works for them so they'll continue to use it.

Now for my personal experience. We received a letter and contacted People to People to find out the details. They told us to attend a meeting held at a local Hotel to learn more. In our area it was held at a Hilton. 

We attended the meeting and left with a full understanding of the program. I remember them saying that it was started by President Dwight Eisenhower and that every president since was a honary something or other with the exception of President Carter. That may be deemed misleading to some but since I already knew they were a student travel company, I didn't care and never checked up on it.

At the meeting, they had a list of the students in our area that had traveled with P2P the previous year and since we recognized several names we contacted the parents to get their opinions.  We live in an affluent area where people tend to spend a lot of money on their kids summer activities so the price wasn't an objection for any of them.
After my daughter committed to the trip to China she had get togethers held at a YMCA so that she could meet the other kids who she would be spending 26 days with half way around the world. They also had an overnight with the other kids and counselors prior to the trip. The counselors were all school teachers so they had great experience working with the kid's. One of the counselors happened to teach in my daughters school. All of the counselors had prior experience with P2P having gone on trips previously.
For the trip to China, It was offered up that we pay a small additional fee so that a bus could be chartered to pick the students up at the local mall so the families didn't have to travel to the airport. We all agreed.  The trip was a wonderful experience for my daughter and she couldn't wait to find out where she was going the next year. She made a lot of friends and continued a few friendship's throughout the year.

Her 2nd trip was to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.  All of the preparations and arrangements were similar and she again had a wonderful experience.  She continues to stay in contact with some of the friends she made on these trips.

Now for those who are just a little nervous about sending your child to a far away country, I have to tell you that my daughter is visually impaired which may not matter to some but I'm mentioning it because I had a whole different set of concerns about safety and supervision. All the counselors were wonderful and there was not one incident that caused my daughter to feel uncomfortable in fact just the opposite, she gained a level of confidence in traveling that most adults will never have. Since her P2P trips my daughter as visited Europe as part of a school student exchange program and is scheduled for a Semester at Sea this coming summer.

I'm sure there are varying opinions on the P2P program and as a parent you have to know your child and how comfortable they will be away from home for so long. As for the legitimacy of the People to People program, I can tell you from experience that it is professionally run, well organized and they have a contingency plan for just about every possible travel interruption and dilemma that can and will arise.

My suggestion is to first, understand what P2P is and is not.  It is a student Travel Company, it is not an all expenses paid tour of some foreign country that your child has earned because he or she is an academic scholar.

Second, if you can afford the six to eight thousand dollars, attend the meeting in your area and make sure you get a list of students who traveled the previous year and make a point of contacting them and their parents to get their opinion. 

Third, if you decide that this is something you and your child want to do, find out the names of the other kids in your area who are planning to travel so you can get to know their parents and your child can get to know the other students so they can become more comfortable around them so when the time comes to say goodbye for 20 plus days you can sleep at night knowing they are in good hands.        
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