Is "People to People" a scam or not?

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by gismo, Jan 30, 2008.

  1. gismo

    gismo Touchdown! Greaser!

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    People to People is supposedly based on a program started by President Eisenhower when he was in office that promotes the development of "student ambassadors". There is a non-profit organization run by his granddaughter
    coupled with a for-profit enterprise that arranges chaperoned trips to various places in the US and around the world. My daughter applied for a position at the urging of a friend and was "accepted" for a trip to Europe this summer. I've been reading a few accounts on the internet that make the whole thing seem like a scam to sell overpriced guided tours to the (semi-wealthy) parents of kids. They made the local news recently due to a lawsuit filed by a Minnesotan whose young son died on one of the trips, with a claim that the youth was left alone in a hotel room for several hours after he became seriously ill.

    Of course I have concerns about my daughter's safety (she has some significant health issues) but it appears that this unfortunate tragedy may be an isolated incident. I'm mostly worried that if the organization is as dishonest as some of the internet postings claim, they might also be lying about their level of supervision and care.

    Has anyone on PoA participated in a P2P trip or had a child who did? Anyone know more than I learned from these links?:

    http://www.studentambassadors.org/default.asp

    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2006/11/people_to_people_intro.html

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_gx5202/is_1997/ai_n19122549/pg_1

    http://www.p2pspecialist.com/People_to_People_Student_Ambassador_Program/

    http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/0/157/ripoff0157590.htm

    http://mousepad.mouseplanet.com/showthread.php?t=89566
     
  2. Ghery

    Ghery Final Approach

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    Our daughter went to New Zealand and Australia on a People to People trip in 1995 and had a ball. We had no complaints.
     
  3. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Tell ya what, just pay my way, and I'll give your daughter a personal tour of Europe that she'll never forget, and she'll see things and meet people that I'm sure P2P won't get her near.... including a sailing trip with the head of NATO operations and his family among other things.
     
  4. jesse

    jesse Administrator Management Council Member

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    lmfao--that would be rather interesting to watch Lance try to explain that to his daughter. "No, you cannot go to Europe with your peers. Instead you must go with this guy named Henning from the internet."

    I never had such an opportunity--but I did know people that went on such trips although I believe they were mostly organized by the school district. Based on the stories I heard from my peers I would say that the level of supervision was most defiantly lacking. I doubt these people would be any worse....
     
  5. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I went on two People to People trips, one to South Africa in 1999 and then one to Australia/New Zealand in 2001. Additionally, one of my friends did a trip to Western Europe (we became friends after meeting at an info session they had, where I gave an impromptu account of my experience in South Africa, including coming about 10 feet from a mommy hippo with her baby... dang she had a big mouth and a loud roar).

    The trips are pretty highly priced, and the whole "Student Ambassador" thing I always thought was a crock. I was less than impressed with their screening process (thus backing up my thoughts on the "Student Ambassador" thing), as a lot of the kids who went were pretty rotten or misbehaven, at least they sure treated me poorly. Then again, they're high school kids.

    That said, the experiences were great and things I'll never forget. They showed me cultures that I wouldn't have any idea of, and in each of those three week trips I learned more than I could have imagined. I wouldn't absolutely recommend the program.

    To the point of supervision: I seem to recall the trips having 40 kids and 4 chaperones, plus a bus driver, tour guide, and whoever else was at our destination. Obviously with that number, you can't have perfect supervision. Also obviously, when you put kids in hotels, and you don't have an adult for each kid, you're going to have certain things go on. That is true regardless of whether it's this trip or any other. For that matter, it's true when parents take their kids places most of the time. I wouldn't call the level of supervision lacking for these trips any more than for any other.

    I will say I managed to sneak out one time, undetected by the official chaperones. When in Australia, I wanted to get a Holden t-shirt. When we were at the mall, I saw a store that had them but was closed. The mall was about a 10 minute walk from the hotel, it was a good area, and I knew how to get where I was going. I talked to the tour guide (an attractive young female Aussie) and she knew I was responsible and would be fine, so she said it was fine, so long as I didn't tell anyone. At a pre-determined time, I snuck out (nobody missed me since most of the kids on the trip didn't like me anyway), got my t-shirt, came back, and went straight to the tour guide's room (part of the plan - I gave her the shirt so nobody would notice I mysteriously showed up with this bag from having gone shopping).

    I can't see it being true that a kid got left in the hotel room unaccounted for - that wouldn't have happened on either of the trips I was on. If a kid stayed back at the hotel, one of the adults would've stayed with him or her.
     
  6. KennyFlys

    KennyFlys Guest

    I suspect when there are large amounts of money involved where one is not largely responsible for their own activies, there's also some heavy profit margins in place and a lack of "bang for the buck" in the quality of the service supposedly promised.

    Then, there are stories like this one...

    Parents sue People to People over son’s death in Japan
     
  7. Greg Bockelman

    Greg Bockelman Administrator Management Council Member

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    Ditto my son it 2001 or 2002. Same tour.
     
  8. Skip Miller

    Skip Miller En-Route

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    Regardless of sponsoring organization (P2P, Church, School, etc.) there will be some unsupervised time. The real question is does your daughter have the maturity to recognize when she is in over her head, to resist the really bad peer pressure-driven ideas, and have the ability to dial 1-800-DadHelpMeNOW?

    I've never met you, Lance, but your on-line personality suggests to me that the answer is a definite yes.

    -Skip
     
  9. bluesky74656

    bluesky74656 Line Up and Wait

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    I went to England, Wales and Ireland with P2P in the summer between 6th and 7th grade. I thought it was great. They even set us up with a host family for a couple days in Wales, so we got to stay with a few kids our own age. I remember seeing the original Mummy for the first time in Wales because the family I was staying with took me.

    As for the financials, I can't say. I was in 7th grade at the time, I was obviously not paying my own way through. But the program didn't seem poor.
     
  10. gismo

    gismo Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I suspect that she's may be more mature than I am when it come to dealing with peers, and definitely a lot more mature than I was at her age. I don't expect a problem there, I'm more concerned about the kids left to fend for themselves in a country where they don't speak the language. It's too bad that none of the countries she will visit speak Spanish as she's reasonably fluent in that.

    The story about the kid who died in Japan (he was practically a neighbor, I didn't actually know the family but I probably know someone who does) is what got me looking into the "scam" aspect. It seems that the majority of the participants have been satisfied with their adventures. Probably the biggest concern I have is that the organization makes such a big deal about their "selection process" that's claimed to focus on academic achievers but it sure looks like they will accept anyone who can pony up the money. That makes me wonder what else they have misrepresented.
     
  11. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Well, if she's going to Europe, not that big of a problem, most everyone speaks English, at least enough to help someone out.
     
  12. kateyes8178

    kateyes8178 Filing Flight Plan

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    I went with People to People in 1992 to United Kingdom and Ireland. It was an amazing experience. I almost went to Austrailia two years later. I had a great time and any child that goes with this organization will have an amazing time. I was able to see Queen Elizabeth while I was in Scottland, I stayed with an amazing family in England, stayed with another family in Ireland- experienced cultural differences, family differences, and had the opportunity to grow up a little bit. It was a great experience and hope its still around when I have children of my own.
     
  13. bbchien

    bbchien Final Approach

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    I have. 2000 went to China. Amazing trip, but in addition I had access through a bunch 'o local who happened to be my cousins :)

    They did a really, really good job. It was a medical exchange trip, too.
     
  14. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Thread resurrection!

    Lance, did your daughter end up going? And if so, what was her experience?
     
  15. TangoWhiskey

    TangoWhiskey Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    I'd like to bring back the thread too; OUTSIDE of P2P, what other means are available for arranging for your child get get an international host family experience? When my senior graduates, I'd like her to see France (she's taken French each year in High School); traveling alone (without us), I'd prefer she had a non-touristy "real world" trip with a host family of some sort. But I don't know anybody in France. :)
     
  16. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I know a bunch of people in France and Belgium, although they're all probably between her grandparents and great-grandparents age. Send me a PM, I might be able to help you out.
     
  17. TangoWhiskey

    TangoWhiskey Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Those are the best kind of people, Ted. :) I'll PM you.
     
  18. Amelia

    Amelia Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Ooooh, Henning, is there an age limit for this tour? (Bet you think I'm kidding!):D
     
  19. Amelia

    Amelia Pre-takeoff checklist

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    BTW, both of our children were Rotary Exchange Students in high school. Our son spent the academic year in Sweden, and our daughter was in NE France. Both had a wonderful time, were well cared for, and learned more than they ever imagined possible. Getting by in Swedish was hard for the boy, since all Swedes would rather speak English, but our daughter was fully bilingual in French by Christmas, a skill that continues to serve her very well. If there's time to arrange for a year either during or immediately following high school, it's a fabulous experience-- and Rotarians on both sides of the exchange help support the kids.
     
  20. SCCutler

    SCCutler Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    (grin)

    Rotary Rocks.
     
  21. Steve

    Steve En-Route

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    I see Paris

    I see France...
     
  22. AdamZ

    AdamZ Administrator Management Council Member

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  23. Gary

    Gary En-Route

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    Another option is to wait until she is in college and take advantage of a study abroad program offered by the school - this seems to be a much bigger thing now a days.

    My daughter just spend a semester in Holland on such a program:

    http://www.emerson.edu/external_programs/castle/index.cfm

    She loved it! Got to have a home base, saw lots of Europe, ran up some impressive credit card and phone bills, and got some education out of the process - really was an experience for her. Other than her travel costs, the cost was the same as a semester in the US. Well organized, and rewarding for her.

    Gary
     
  24. Amelia

    Amelia Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Here you go: Ready-made family in some exotic elsewhere in the world.
    Host an international student- either a high school exchange student or if a local college has a host-family program for its international students, you can sign up there.

    We hosted some two dozen international students over the years, ranging in age from 16 to 25, some high school ones who lived at our house as our own kids, and some who lived in a nearby college dorm, but really wanted an American family of their own. What a great experience. They loved cooking meals from home, when I could find the strange ingredients, treated us to Swedish Lucia-fest- complete with crown of candles, brought fun things from home to share, and were SO nice to our little ones.
    We got refreshers in high school calculus and free French lessons. Yes, we did take on other people's spoiled adolescents, and from time to time there were bumps in the road, but nearly all of these kids survived a year or more with us, and nearly all are still in touch, after many years. They now have children of their own, who, we hope, might come our way someday.
    But the point of all that was to say, we have had fabulously authentic Midsommersfests in Sweden, totally, amazingly elegant weddings in England and France, shared vacations in both England and France as well, museum tours by experts, best in house theater tickets at Stratford, the most wonderful 7-course meals we've ever set fork(s) to in France, incredible parties and sightseeing in Brazil. Several countries in Asia and Eastern Europe are still on our list of places to get to know from the inside out. The hospitality we were shown by people who were eager to share the best their countries had to offer, was simply spectacular.
    And they welcomed our children there for a year each, too. So, that's my advice. Get a teenager from elsewhere for a year, and then send yours to ready-made family of her own.
     
  25. shakesteacher

    shakesteacher Filing Flight Plan

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    It is misleading, as all 2400 of our high school's students received "congratulations" letters, and invitations to join People to People. Some of those students, I wouldn't want or trust to go with other kids. And, although not really a scam it is VERY expensive compared to similiar trips. Both my teenage daughter AND I could go on a tour with a tour group for the price we were quoted. I would rather see students get together with a teacher they already know and choose a trip they are interested in, plus, then they would be going with other students they already know. There are so many teachers who travel with their own students. and I would love to go with student groups.
     
  26. TangoWhiskey

    TangoWhiskey Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    This single-page thread has almost as many views as the "Joke Friday" thread? Wow. It must be getting views from visitors off Google searches.
     
  27. gismo

    gismo Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I was thinking the same thing. Too bad none of the Googlers bothered to check the thread dates.
     
  28. Doggtyred

    Doggtyred En-Route

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    I used to date a nice lady back in my college days. We had been lab partners and friends. I dropped out of school for a while, but came across this article in the paper one morning.

    If she goes, make sure she stays with the group.

    Amy was good people, and never deserved what happened to her...

     
  29. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I have traveled over a lot of Europe completely solo without a cell phone, and unable to speak the languages in the countries I've gone to. I've managed to do it without any problems. Staying with the group is a good idea as always. However, I was raised in New York City, went to high school in Brooklyn, and the only friend of mine who's ever been murdered (outside of the World Trade Center attack) was shot in the back of the head at Virginia Tech.
     
  30. John Baker

    John Baker Final Approach

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    I've found that any adult sponsored event or program that involves "helping children", usually involves at least a few adults making some serious money from it.

    Since that is pretty much an accepted given, all non profits are a profit for someone, forget that part of it. Talk face to face with whoever are the chaperons to find your answers. If you can not do that, talk to them on the phone, but get a feel somehow, directly from the people who will be on the ground with your child.

    You might also inquire if they are bonded and/or insured. Ask for the policy numbers and the company's contact information.


    John
     
  31. DMparent

    DMparent Filing Flight Plan

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    My daughter attended a P2P program to Australia and New Zealand, and had a wonderful time. I compared the price to the per-person cost of the trip, and found it reasonable when factoring in the teachers. One thing I should stress is that this is *not* just an expensive vacation. Our daughter attended monthly meetings, and had to prepare presentations for each one. The teacher leading her group was an honors English teacher and she really cracked the whip. My daughter (and we too) learned a lot about Australia and New Zealand before she took the trip.

    Our daughter's group was not a bunch of rich kids. She was the only one whose parents were paying. The rest grew up in the country and did fundraising. One went on a trek around on his horse to raise money. They did team up with another group that was mostly weathlier kids.

    The trip was well-organized, well-supervised, and jam packed with activities.

    Someone has claimed that it is difficult to cancel, as it is with some of the "leadership conference" organizing companies. One boy in our group had to cancel out, and he didn't have a problem getting a refund less a small deposit.

    Yes, the P2P organizer is a for-profit company, and some kids have had bad experiences, but all the kids in our group returned home talking about how great the trip was. The post-trip meeting included presentations by the kids on what they learned. We have had friends whose children also went on P2P trips to Europe and had very positive experiences.

    Some have suggested the "student ambassador" part was a crock, but our group's teacher drilled that into the students constantly, expecting them to be on extremely good behavior in formal meetings, only allowing them to act like 7th graders in informal settings.
     
  32. MichelleP.

    MichelleP. Filing Flight Plan

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    I was invited by the PtoP Ambassadors to join Medical Imaging delegation to China in November 2008 and spent 3 weeks in China and Hong Kong. That trip impressed me so much that I just came back from PtoP trip to Jordan in March 2011.
    Both trips were relatively reasonably priced yet extremely rewarding. The accommodations were superb, all services and itinerary first rate, and the guides we had were simply some of the most interesting and well educated people I have ever met. And we got to experience places and events out of reach for an average tourist. Overall, both trips were priceless.
    In addition, both trips fulfilled the mission and vision of Dwight E. of promoting understanding and peace through education and travel. I was so impressed by our Muslim guide and his perspective on the relationship between moderate Islam and its coexistence with the rest of the world, Jordan and its people, and its progressive government that I having been trying to promote a different view of this particular Middle East country among all of my friends. I also intend to return to Jordan for a long period of time.
    The Managing Director for PtoP and one of the frequent childrens' chaperones were on the trip. From a personal experience, I do not believe that either one of them would be in any way irresponsible in any manner toward kids or teens in their charge. Both of them are very dedicated and responsible people who do travel on these trips out of dedication and love for children.
    My suggestion would be to take a good, long, hard look at your child, your ability to pay for one of these trips, and go for it.
     
  33. wsuffa

    wsuffa Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Two first-time posters and positive reviews. This does not pass the smell test.
     
  34. CaringMom

    CaringMom Filing Flight Plan

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