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Forging a route to China

Teen's OSV work leads to the trip of a lifetime

Sturbridge resident Eric Sanderson said he was contacted by People to People for his work at Old Sturbridge Village. Here, Sanderson is working in the Village’s blacksmith shop. Courtesy photo. (click for larger version)
June 09, 2010
STURBRIDGE — Like President Nixon, a slow boat, and Big Bird before him, Eric Sanderson is going to China.

The 16-year-old Tantasqua student was chosen as one of approximately 20 Worcester County youths to be a student ambassador as part of the People to People program.

Established by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956, People to People has facilitated international exchange programs for more than 50 years on several continents.

Sanderson was chosen for the program because of his work at Old Sturbridge Village, where he interns in the tin and blacksmith shops.

"They actually found me," Sanderson said of People to People. "They sent me a letter in the mail.

"I'm actually the only student from Tantasqua going on the trip."

While inclusion in the program came as a surprise to Sanderson, it was a most welcomed one.

A second-degree black belt in Shaolin Kempo, he has been fascinated with Asian culture for his entire life.

"Ever since I was a little kid, I've just always wanted to go to China," said Sanderson, who trains and teaches classes at Villari's Martial Arts Studio in Palmer.

His first karate lesson was at the age of 4.

"It just kind of sparked an interest in me," he said.

See Friday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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