Chapter 1: Matthew Welch
Matthew Welch’s alarm clock wakes him up from a deep slumber. He quickly turns it off before
his ear drums get damaged. Why does everything seem so much louder in the morning? Shrugging, he
gets out of his bed and saunters over to his bathroom that he shares with his younger brother. It was four
thirty in the morning and the hot shower helped him wake up a little bit. Once he got finished taking a
shower and drying off, Matthew then put on some underwear and a pair of long khakis and a red/brown
collared shirt with the emblem of People to People.
People to People is the organization that Matthew decided to apply for last Fall. He was
recommended by one of her teachers who was a guide for the organization. People to People takes kids
from a wide range of ages normally twenty kids from two different locations and put them together to go
on a three-week long trip overseas. Matthew wanted to try the Mediterranean package which would take
him to Italy, Sicily and Greece. Over the next month he did interviews with the two guides overlooking the
trip from the Detroit side, Rob Rodgers and Tom Howard.
In the next few weeks after the interviewing process Matthew received a call confirming his spot
on the trip. From November to May the Detroit group met twice a month in Bloomfield Hills High School
library and conducted informal greetings. In this manner Matthew finally met the two girls that was
interviewed with him, Tori Davis and Danielle Bisto. Tori was a Sophomore to be Junior. She was a
beautiful girl with long brown hair and fierce eyes and was a nonstop talker. Danielle on the other hand
was much more quieter and relaxed with blonde hair. Danielle’s cousin, Michael, was also on the trip.
During the next few months they conducted excursuses to get to know one another well as well
the dos and don’ts when they are overseas. It was here that Matthew became good friends with Chris
Tyson, Neil Gupta, Monica Oleksiak, Anna DeGatongo and Becca Morris. Anna and Becca become great
friends since the moment they had their duel interview with Rob and Tom. Although they’ll be starting
their Junior year after the summer, Anna already had a scholarship to Northern Illinois University for
gymnastics and Becca has a scholarship to Northern Michigan University for dance. Both looked very
similar and small in size, but they can pack a lot of punch. Becca had shoulder length black hair while
Anna had brown.
As for Monica she was about six inches taller than Anna and Becca with dark brown hair that
reached to the middle of her back. Chris was the heavier out of the bunch but not because he was fat but
because he was nearly all muscle. The kid was not only the linebacker at his school but also a wrestler
too. Neil was a skinny Indian kid that was shy and didn’t talk a lot during the meetings but talked the most
in his friend group. The six of them hung out even outside the meetings.
Matthew grabs his back pack and checks on its contents then double checks his room before
leaving. Down in the kitchen his mother and father were eating breakfast and Matthew turned on the
stove and made some eggs for himself. By the time he was done eating it was almost five in the morning.
They needed to be at the airport by six. His father took his bag and suitcase and loaded the car up. In five
minutes they were backing out of the driveway and making it to the Detroit Airport.
It was five thirty-five when they finally parked and made their way to the Lufthansa part of the
airport. There they found a group of similar kids wearing the same clothes as Matthew. His parents went
to go talk to Tom and Rob while Matthew checked out who was here. He saw Josh Richardson who was
a quiet pimple faced kid with glasses. Matthew has had a few opportunities to talk with the kid. There was
Jackson O’Toole who is very fond of cars but also the weirdest kid Matthew has ever encountered. Next
to him was Michael and Danielle. Danielle looked in his general direction and smiled. He returned it and
saw that Kayla Rowling and Erica Pace were with them. Kayla was a stout girl that plays softball and
volleyball for her school while Erica plays lacrosse. Both them go to the same high school. Not far behind
them talking was Selale Hammon and Britney Carolann. Britney was a tall pretty girl with long black hair
who plays for her schools’ basketball team while Selale is the opposite of Britney. Selale was tiny and had
almost a rainbow style hair from dying it so much.
Over by them was the only three African American girls in the group, Paula Marshall, Michelle
Warren, and Payton Yousif. By them was kids from Matthew’s own high school. Suzanna Seprino, Brett
Kramer, Greg Shipta, Ben Richter, and Patrick Riccio. Matthew then looks around once more to see that
his friends were waving him over.
“What’s up, guys.” Matthew said as he joined them.
“Ready to get this **** on the road.” Anna responded jumping up and down. Neil looks at his
watch and looks around.
“Why are we still here? We should have gone through security by now,” He says with his accent.
“I think we’re still waiting on Tori,” Matthew explained. “I didn’t see her around any of our cohorts.”
As they wait for the last member of their party Rob and Tom started going around handing them
their passports. “Are you guys ready?” Rob asked as he hands Anna, Becca and Neil their passports and
looks at the other three. “Tom must have yours, he’ll be around soon enough.” Not long after Matthew,
Monica and Chris get their passports does Tori show up. After a few more minutes is it time for them to
get moving through security. Matthew and everyone else hugs and kisses their parents’ goodbye then
goes trough the terminal without knowing what awaits them in Rome.