By LESLEY TOTH
Mille Lacs County Times
Spending 16 days traveling across Europe with a group of people you just met is a daunting image for most adults.
But for 16-year-old Milaca High School junior Ashley Salgren, the excitement is winning out over the nerves. After some encouragement from band director Andrew Nelson, the young lady has decided to take part in a European music tour with about 50 other Minnesota high school students.
“Mr. Nelson took me into his office one day and he said, ‘I have this cool thing called Music Ambassadors and I want to choose you,” Salgren said.
According to its Facebook page, the Minnesota Ambassadors of Music is a group of nominated high school band and choir students who come together for a European concert tour every other summer.
“I’ve been in the midst of getting my passport right now and it’s kind of crazy to know it’s really happening,” Salgren said.
She and the other nominated students will make stops and perform at venues in London, Italy, Paris, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Liechtenstein. She will spend just little more than two weeks on the tour.
“Ashley is an outstanding trumpet player. She has a great personality and will be very open to working with students from other schools and musical backgrounds,” said Milaca band director Andrew Nelson. “I believe she will represent our band program and our community well.”
Nelson said this was the first time he had encouraged one of his students to participate in Music Ambassadors, but the program had come highly recommended by his colleagues throughout the state.
The 16-year-old has never left the country before and the furthest she’s been from Milaca is Chicago.
“I’ve never been on a plane before either,” she said laughing. “I’ve never been anywhere without my parents telling me what to do. So it might make me a little more mature, I guess.”
Salgren said she’s never met any of the other students or chaperones who will travel with her, but that is the least of her worries.
“I’m really open to new opportunities and meeting new people,” she said. “You just have to be yourself.”
For the full story, see the Thursday, Feb. 23 print edition of the Times.