RUMFORD — When she’s not catching up
with American history homework from the summer, Mountain Valley High School
sophomore Rebecca Maifeld is busy writing thank-you notes and
preparing a digital slide show.

Maifeld, 15, of Rumford Center,
recently returned from a three-week educational and overseas
community service trip to Italy and Greece. She took more
than 800 digital photographs and bought paintings and pottery.

The thank-you notes to people who
donated money toward the $6,900 she needed for the People to People
Ambassador program trip will include summarized copies of what she
calls her “amazing journey.”

Maifeld joined 41 other teens from
Maine and New England who served as student ambassadors on the trip
to learn about other cultures and people while promoting peace.

Highlights of the trip included
spending an unexpected day and night in Paris, seeing the island of
Crete, building fences to protect baby Mediterranean sea turtles,
riding a donkey, meeting and dining with a Greek family in their
home, and seeing the Parthenon in Athens and the Coliseum in Rome up close.

“It was one of the most amazing
things I’ve ever done and will never forget,” she said Thursday. “It made me appreciate things more
here, because of things I’ve seen, like some of the houses in Greece
weren’t so nice as places here.”

She said the trip began on July 2, but
because the group spent 10 hours waiting for heavy fog to clear at
Logan International Airport in Boston, their Europe flight to Athens left without them. That’s why they spent time in Paris.

“I was able to see the Eiffel Tower,
Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, the Seine River, and the amazing city
of Paris,” Maifeld said.

From Paris, the group went to Crete,
where they visited the Palace of Knossos and Dictean caves, said to
be the birthplace of the mythological god Zeus.

On Crete, the group completed its first
community service project: building 20 to 30 fences on a beach to
guide baby sea turtles into the ocean.

Later, immersed in Greek culture, they
learned three styles of Greek dance, which they then had to perform
in front of the village. Then came one of her favorite parts of the
trip: eating a meal prepared by a Greek family in their home.

“It allowed us to see how they lived
and what they ate,” Maifeld said. “The food was amazing.”

They learned the ancient Cretan process
of bread-making, visited the city of Olympia and ran on the same
track as many Olympians did hundreds of years ago. They planted flowers in
the city center of an Italian village called Morano Calabro, and
climbed the active volcano, Mount Etna.

“It was beautiful from the top, but I
am still pouring ash out of my shoes,” Maifeld said.

She said the group visited a school in
Italy and played basketball and soccer with the children, visited
Pompeii at the base of Mount Vesuvius and spent three days in Rome,
which is where the budding architect wanted to go all along.

Unwittingly getting into the wrong line
one day gave her a chance to see St. Peter’s Basilica and have an
informational meeting with a Vatican priest and a Swiss guard. Unfortunately, the Pope was away.

Maifeld said she is available to do
slide-show presentations and talk about her trip “to give back to
the community.”

[email protected]

Fifteen-year-old Mountain Valley High School sophomore Rebecca Maifeld, right, of Rumford Center, stands with one of her People to People Ambassador friends from Maryland in front of Rome’s Coliseum during this summer’s educational and community service trip to Europe. Seeing the Coliseum up close, Maifeld said, was one of her favorite parts of the trip because she wants to become an architect and design buildings.

Rebecca Maifeld, 15, of Rumford Center, stands in front of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece, while on a three-week educational and community service trip to Europe through the People to People Ambassador Program.

Rebecca Maifeld, 15, of Rumford Center displays two of the paintings she bought last month in Rome while participating in the People to People Ambassador Program. At left is the Trevi Fountain; the smaller painting is St. Peter’s Basilica.

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