In the summer months, there is nothing anybody wants more than to travel the world. I was no exception.

This story goes back to before Christmas break when my high school counselor introduced me and a few other students to a program called the Student Diplomacy Corps — a 100 percent scholarship based program that allows students to travel to one — or three in my case — of 11 different countries to build college readiness, deepen our understanding of global issues and unleash our potential and creativity.

The application was rigorous and included three different essays, a letter of recommendation and a telephone interview. I found out on March 30 that I was awarded a $3,700 scholarship to the “Italy: The Venetian Empire” program.

With this program I had the opportunity to travel around Italy, Slovenia and Croatia for three weeks and learn about how a city-state became a maritime and commercial powerhouse in ancient times, and how the architectural and cultural influences of La Dominante extended to the costal towns of Piran and Rivinj.

The trip included three days in Rome; five days in Venice; seven days in a small town outside of Venice named Treviso — in which I stayed with an Italian host family — two days in Piran, Slovenia and two days in Rivinj, Croatia. It was quite the summer schedule for a 17-year-old girl from Big Horn.

In the weeks leading up to my trip, I was introduced electronically to my eight group members, my group leader and my host family. We were all given a paragraph telling where everyone was from and some of the reasons we were chosen for the program. I was astonished to learn that I was grouped with athletes, musicians, filmmakers and even math geniuses that enjoy solving nuclear equations in their free time.

It wasn’t until my group members started to email one another did I realize that we were all in the same, nerve-ridden boat. But little did I know at the time, our small boat would have navigated the Venetian waterways like no other boats had before.

It was finally our time to meet in the JFK Airport and depart on our adventure. My group members’ nervousness was palpable, and it didn’t help that we all appeared so different, but it turned out that our differences only made us closer.

We were from all over the country with all different; cultural, financial and ethnic backgrounds. However, our future in this program was the same and therefore made our backgrounds beautifully irrelevant.

I could write ten pages on all of the amazing experiences I had on my trip, from seeing the Pope at the Vatican to staying up all night with a giant group of my host sister’s friends and playing crazy games at 4 a.m.

But what I think young people, Wyomingites especially, need to get out of my experience is that travel is necessary to living an open-minded life.

Whether it’s to New York or New Zealand, the world has so much to offer. As a young person, I understand how intimidating and large the world appears and realize now that I only had a small taste of the giant world we live on, but trust me when I say this: It is all completely worth it.

By Morgan Nance