Kegan Solomon never imagined he would travel to Australia – especially before high school.

Kegan was one of 43 students from Cambria, Somerset, Bedford and Centre counties to travel last month to Australia with the People to People exchange program.

The Johnstown eighth-grader at first was nervous about the 18-day trip because he never had spent more than a day or two without his parents.

“I am happy (my dad) made me go,” Kegan said.

The students toured government buildings, stayed with host families, explored the rain forests and fed exotic animals.

Kegan’s mother, Denise Solomon, said after fundraising for the trip she and her husband purchased foreign currency, a digital camera and an Australia tour-guide book for his trip.

Each day he was gone, she read over his daily itinerary and learned about the places he traveled.

“I am proud and honored he was able to do this,” Solomon said. “I know when he goes back to school he’ll be telling a lot of stories.”

Ally Null, who will be in seventh grade at Ferndale in the fall, said the experience was memorable.

“The most fun part was the Great Barrier Reef,” she said. “It was a great experience. We toured everything, everywhere.”

Null said she met students from around the region and learned a lot about Australia.

“At first you get homesick. But after a long time you get used to it and you gain independence,” she said about the 18-day trip.

Each student raised about $6,000 for the trip. The fee included transportation, accommodations, meals and activities, Solomon said.

Other students from the region who attended the trip were Hannah Watkins, Berlin Brothersvalley; Brandye Hull, Blacklick Valley; Mitch Gaumer, Meyersdale Area; Brianna Kearney and Hillary Wertz from Penn Cambria; Habel Daud, Richland; and Daisy Saylor, Windber.

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