Local youth serves as ambassador

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 9, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Rishawn Marquise Watson, a rising John Yeates Middle School eighth-grader, just returned from a whirlwind trip to France and Switzerland.

Watson went to Europe as a sports ambassador through &uot;People to People,&uot; a youth program founded in 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The former president based the organization on his belief that if people from different countries could come together in peace and friendship, so eventually would countries.

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&uot;I was interviewed and evaluated before I was accepted,&uot; said Watson. &uot;I am now sharing my experiences with my school and some of the civic clubs in Suffolk. I would be happy to meet with any group who would like to hear about the trip.&uot;

Not only did Watson participate in the special 13-day Swiss Invitational Basketball Tournament, he also enjoyed meeting foreign students and visiting historical monuments in Switzerland and France.

Foreign travel is nothing new to Watson and his family, since he and his mother, Raphalia Watson, are from the Virgin Islands. She and husband, Ricky Watson, met while serving in the Army together.

As a sports ambassador with People to People, Rishawn Watson can now earn high school and college credits through the program’s many educational activities.

&uot;Personally, I wanted to be a sports ambassador because it was a chance to compete and represent my country, the United States of America, overseas,&uot; he said. &uot;I played forward for my team, the Gladiators.

&uot;We came in second place. I felt great because we were complimented by Team USA after the game.&uot;

Watson said he has been asked to make a second pilgrimage with People to People, this time to Australia, next summer. Although he will again travel as a sports ambassador, he will play for the soccer team.

Watson said he wants to thank St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, as well as his family and friends, for raising the money needed to participated in the program.

The young man is also an acolyte at St. Mark’s, where he has been a member since moving to Suffolk two years ago.

Watson, his parents, and brother, Ryan, live on Ivanhoe Court in northern Suffolk.