Provincetown Life Information

Provincetown girl Kellianne Pannoni off to China with People to People program

Published: Sat April 15, 2006
By: Straight Dope in Life > Relationships
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By Steve Desroches | Cape Codder at

Learning how to use chopsticks takes time, that’s something 12-year-old Kellianne Pannoni already knows.

The Provincetown seventh-grader is trying to master not only chop sticks, but also learn a few words in Mandarin and brush up on Taoism as she prepares to go to China this summer as part of the People to People Student Ambassador Program. As she prepares to travel around China with a group of other students from around the region, Pannoni has heard presentations about Mao Tse Tung, Chinese language and culture, and she gave her own report to her fellow traveling companions on Confucius. And then there are the chopsticks. Brought in by a fellow traveler, the students tried their best.

“That didn’t go so well,” said Pannoni.

But she has plenty of time to practice before she leaves on July 22 for a 17-day trip with stops in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and Xian taking in such sites as the famed terracotta soldiers and the Great Wall. Pannoni says at this point she is excited, not nervous. How about Mom?

“Mom wants to go, too,” said Pannoni’s envious and proud mom Charlene Parris.

Pannoni received word that she was nominated to participate in the cultural exchange program last year and was later accepted. Since her favorite subject is history, Pannoni has spent the past few months reading about everything from the Ming Dynasty to the Cultural Revolution. But once she arrives in the Far East, Pannoni will get to see modern day life and take part in Chinese cooking classes, take martial arts courses and stay with local families to see what day-to-day life is like in China. Pannoni will also get to meet local students and learn about what life is like for a 12-year-old in China.

“There’s no bowing, they get offended if you bow,” said Pannoni, who said she learned many surprising things already about Chinese culture. “It’s only in the movies that they bow. And never point. And if you walk into a room and people applaud you applaud back. Don’t hold hands in public. No public displays of affection, as that is considered rude there.”

Provincetown seventh-grader Kellianne Pannoni is head to China this summer as part of the People to People Student Ambassador Program. (Merrily Lunsford photo)

Eager to share a little of Cape Cod with the Chinese friends she will make Pannoni plans on bringing gifts from Provincetown to give to her host families, along with postcards and photos of things like the Pilgrim Monument and Race Point Lighthouse.

Since learning she was accepted Pannoni and Parris have been raising money for the cultural exchange program. So far, local businesses have already given Pannoni about half of the $5,300 needed for the trip that her mom calls a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”

“The response has been great,” said Parris who noted that local businesses like Fanizzi’s and Cape Cod Oil and individuals like Alix Ritchie and Joy McNulty have made much appreciated donations. “The Knights of Columbus was great and gave $500.”

President Dwight Eisenhower founded the People to People program in 1956 to foster international peace and understanding by creating an opportunity for American youth to interact directly with other youth all over the world. Fifty years later, the program has sent thousands of American teenagers to every continent to take part in an educational tour and cultural exchange experience.

For now Pannoni continues to study about China in between school, homework, and softball, soccer and basketball. And as this is her first trip out of the United States and the longest flight she has ever been on is to Seattle, she is preparing for the long trip to China.

“It takes about a day and half to get there,” said Pannoni. “I can’t wait.”

How to help: To make a contribution toward Kellianne’s trip to China call Charlene Parris at 508-487-4287. For more information on the People to People Student Ambassador Program go to

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