Teen tours Europe as ambassador

Michele Page

Jazmin Moss, 17, of Helena, Ark., just completed her duties as a student ambassador, the only representative from Arkansas in a group of 40 students from three states. Her European odyssey was a part of the People to People Student Ambassador Programs launched by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956.

Eisenhower felt that given the chance, citizens of different nations would solve their differences and find a way to live in peace. He put those beliefs into action and created the People to People program.

Moss, who spent two days packing for the trip, participated in a 20-day visit to France, Italy and Greece and stayed with a “home stay family” in order to develop relationships with people around the world. It was a chance to meet different people not normally found walking the sidewalks of Helena.

The journey combined hands-on cultural experiences and amazing outdoor adventures to create life-changing experiences.

Moss’ experience certainly offered her a taste of life from a different angle.

She visited many exotic places in Europe such as Paris, Rome, Athens, Naples and Peloponnesus.

“Paris was cold and Italy and Greece were hot with averages of 100 degrees,” she said as she explained how she had to pack both sweaters and short sleeves for her visit.

“My favorite was Pompeii, Italy,” Moss said because of the ruins that Mount Vesuvius left behind after that mountain spewed forth a colossal volcanic explosion in 79 A.D. Pompeii and Herculaneum were both destroyed when Mt. Vesuvius erupted, leaving Pompeii partially buried.

Moss said the lava left behind the skeletal remains of those trapped in the fiery flow.

“It caught them in whatever they were doing,” she explained.

Like any typical 17-year-old, Moss enjoys shopping and driving and found European trends interesting.

Moss said that the clothing styles were not much different than the U.S. but she had to adjust to her metric shoe size when she shopped.

“It’s more expensive there too, once you convert it to American dollars,” she said, holding a pair of Dolce Gabana sunglasses from the original shop in Venice, Italy.

A driver’s license holder since she was 14, Moss says drivers in Europe may need some lessons.

“They drive crazy! You’d think they’d have a wreck,” she said.

Moss also saw some of the flashiest and most expensive cars on the market and was able to snag a Lamborghini while in Italy as she visited the Ferrari dealership. Her new stunning ride fits in her pocket and is just a souvenir.

Moss said her best experience was running in the Olympic Stadium, pounding the same ground that Olympians did centuries ago.

“It almost topped my visit with my home stay family,” said Moss.

While her European Odyssey included lots of shopping and fun for Moss, she did have a life changing experience while abroad.

Moss faced her greatest hurdle, a fear of heights.

The group decided to repel down a 100-foot wall one day and at first, Moss was not going to participate because of her phobia.

Master leader of the group, Joe Webb, 64, tried the feat with no problem and gave Moss the courage after “making it look easy.”

“My palms were sweaty and I looked down over the edge. It was over in about two or three minutes,” said Moss.

Her trip also included sampling grapes straight off the vine, visits to the Eiffel Tower and The Louvre, exotic cuisine with bread at every meal, cute guys and gelato, an Italian ice cream that Moss says beats Baskin Robbins “hands down.”

The trip home was long and Moss said she slept the entire flight.

“I was so glad to be home and take a hot bath,” said Moss after revealing that the water conservation efforts permitted mostly showers.

Upon her return to Phillips County, a reception was held in honor of the ambassador. The “Jazmin’s Back” event was crowded with friends, family and sponsors who gave generously to Moss trek.

Held at Woodruff, she reported about her journey to those gathered and even held a European fashion show as Lady Liberty, Athena, a Roman Catholic Nun and lastly, a French maid.

“Education is the key that can open many doors and I encourage you to continue learning about the world around you,” wrote Sen. Blanche Lincoln, who was unable to attend the affair.