Nominated as a Student Ambassador for the People to People cultural exchange program, Castle Rock School seventh grader Maia Wilson is excited to represent her school when she joins a group of northern California students for a cultural trip to the Celtic countries of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Beneath her shy smile, Castle Rock School seventh grader Maia Wilson is preparing to forge adventurously into uncharted territory.

Nominated as a Student Ambassador for the People to People cultural exchange program, Maia is excited to represent her school when she joins a group of northern California students in grades 6-8 for a cultural trip to the Celtic countries of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

“People to People is a really great program created in the 1950s by Dwight D. Eisenhower as a way to bridge cultures and bring people together,” explained Maia’s mother, Kathy Wilson.

Throughout the 19-day trip that leaves July 2, Maia will stay with host families in Ireland and Scotland. She will get to participate in community service activities in several countries, including working on a sheep farm in Scotland, preparing and delivering meals to those in need and cutting peat bricks that elderly folks in Ireland will use to heat their homes.

Kathy pointed out that there will be some adventurous and thrilling activities unique to the Celtic countries, such as rappelling 70 feet off a tower wall at Penrhyn Castle in Wales.

“I’m just looking forward to traveling,” said Maia, who will be leaving the country for the first time.

So far, she said she hasn’t met anybody her age who has done anything like this before.

“I’ve always kind of wanted to go to England,” she said, “The medieval history has always interested me.”

When asked about what she thinks the most difficult challenge pertaining to this trip will be, Maia answered, “Coming out of my shell.”

Before having that chance, Maia has had practice reaching out to the community to help achieve her goal.

For the past few months, she has been managing a fund-raising campaign to help pay for her adventure.

She sold baked goods and Christmas candy during the holiday season, and has been visiting local businesses and distributing letters requesting donations for a fundraiser dinner she and Kathy are planning.

“We’re asking for both monetary donations and items to include in a raffle,” Kathy explained.

So far, only one business has responded, but they haven’t solicited Mount Shasta yet. Maia will get to take advantage of this opportunity to exercise extroversion by following up with people for donations.

Details about the fund-raising dinner are yet to be determined, as Kathy shared that they’re still looking for the best venue to rent.

As of now, approximately $2,000 has been raised, according to Kathy, including a $500 donation from Dunsmuir Rotary.

Their goal is $7,000.

Maia received notification of her nomination to the People to People program in November.

Kathy admits she almost threw the letter inviting Maia to an introductory People to People meeting away, but Maia said, “I just wanted to go to a meeting to see what it would be like.”

Now, she continues to advance confidently beyond her comfort zone and into a whole new world.

“Next step,” she said, “is getting the passport.”

Those interested in supporting Maia’s Student Ambassador campaign can pledge donations at her fund-raising website: GoFundMe.com/maiawilson.