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Her trip to China
Platteville Middle School student on a trip to China
Brook Gassman
Brook Gassman

Between seventh grade and eighth grade, Brook Gassman of Platteville is taking a trip.

This, however, is no ordinary trip. Gassman left Tuesday for 17 days in China as part of People to People International.

“It appealed to me somehow, going to another country, but it made me think I could be more to be away from my parents for the longest time ever in my life,” said Gassman, 13, who has traveled with her parents, Steve and Suzanne, to Mexico and Jamaica. “I didn’t know anything about it prior to this, but this is a whole new thing.”

Gassman’s father isn’t sure how she was selected, but, he said, “I assume she was recommended by somebody, probably somebody at school, I’d guess.”

Gassman’s itinerary includes a plane ride from Chicago to Beijing, followed by visits to the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, and the Terracotta Army, discovered in 1974 outside Xi’an. She will be staying with a family and visiting a public school and a ping pong school. She will also be taking part in a service project.

Brook raised money from a Facebook appeal.

“You’re supposed to be better with your leadership skills,” said Brook. “You’re supposed to know more.”

She wants “to make a lot of new friends, and to know more about their culture — how they live, not just how we live.”

She will have a cellphone with her, but China is about a half-day ahead of Platteville.