Roseville girl accepted to People to People program

Seventh grader will visit six countries this summer
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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A Roseville seventh grader will travel to six European countries over 19 days this summer as a student ambassador for the national People to People program.

Sophia Reinero, 12, will visit Ireland, Wales, England, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

“I’m really excited for all of them,” Sophia said. “My friend Sammie and I want to share a shake on the Eiffel Tower and eat chocolate in Belgium.”

Sophia’s close friend Sammie Lee Wilhoit, of Orangevale, was also accepted to the program. The girls, who met through the Roseville Theatre Arts Academy, must each raise $6,500 for the trip and are hosting a spaghetti feed Saturday, Jan. 14, at Roseville Theater.

President Dwight Eisenhower started the People to People education program in 1956 with the premise that interaction between people around the globe would promote understanding of other cultures and foster world peace.

Walt Disney’s “It’s a Small World” attraction at Disneyland was inspired by the program.

People to People is now a nonprofit organization that solicits students in fourth through 12th grade to participate in one of its many annual trips. The group has been criticized in recent years for what some call unethical marketing practices, alleging the organization makes it seem like kids who receive the initial invitation to participate have been nominated, which is not the case.

Proponents say the trips offer American students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to foreign places and learn about other cultures.

Forty students will participate on Sophia’s trip. They must provide letters of recommendation and go through an interview process to be selected. Sophia decided she definitely wanted to go after meeting a family on an Alaskan cruise whose daughter went and had a great time.

Her mom, Leigh-Ann Reinero, says she’s heard from parents of other participants that children become more self-sufficient, independent and “they take the world by the reigns and go with it.”

Sophia, who attends Olympus Junior High School, comes from a travel-loving family. She’s been to Costa Rica, New York, Minnesota, Missouri, Alaska, Puerto Vallarta and Florida.

“It’s pretty amazing she wants to do this and is super excited about it,” Leigh-Ann Reinero said. “We’re proud of her and with her maturity level, she will be successful in this program.”

During the trip, students will meet a member of British Parliament, complete a community service program in Ireland, make chocolate at a Belgium chocolatier and learn about the impact of the war from the beaches of Normandy.

“I just can’t wait to have this amazing experience,” Sophia said. “My parents have been to all but one of those (six) countries and I’m excited to catch up to them.”

Sena Christian can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.


Spaghetti feed fundraiser
5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14
Where: Lobby of Roseville Theater, 241 Vernon St.
Cost: $15 adults, $5 children under 11. Raffle tickets are $10.
Info: To purchase tickets, call Leigh-Ann Reinero at (916) 803-6895 or email