As this weekend wraps up, Marietta High School junior Emma Martin, 17, will be preparing to embark on a long flight to China for a 10-day Education First Global Student Leaders Summit.
"I'll be flying out Sunday," she said. "It crept up on me fast."
After participating in the Hugh O'Brien Youth Leadership program last year, Martin was offered the opportunity to attend the summit. She said discussions will deal with problems on local and global levels by looking at ways to solve "problems in this day and age and in our own communities."
She said issues will include the global economy, environmental and educational issues. Keynote speakers will include Jon Huntsman, Jr., former U.S. Ambassador to China and Adam Davidson and Alex Blumberg, co-hosts of NPR's "Planet Money."
Martin is making the trip with 19 other students from around the country, but she said she hasn't met anyone in the group yet. Once in China, she and the others will meet many other American students and get the opportunity to interact with Chinese students.
Martin said she's looking forward to discovering the culture and has been preparing for the trip.
"I've been trying to read up on Chinese etiquette and Chinese culture," she said, adding that she had the opportunity to take a Mandarin Chinese language course at the high school last year.
"I'm just super excited," Martin said. "It's probably the most diverse culture I've had the opportunity to experience."
In fact, summit goers will be immersed in Chinese culture, with tours through Shanghai, Xi'an and Beijing. On those tours are trips to the Great Wall, the Terracotta Warriors, a Buddhist temple and even various shows.
Martin said she loves to travel.
"I've always loved adventure, going out there and seeing stuff for myself," she said.
She added that sometime in middle school, she decided she wanted to get out and see the world.
"I decided, hey, I've gotta go do this; I've gotta go see everything," Martin said. "I've been really passionate about travel and culture. I like to learn; it's such an important experience to have."
Liz DiMascio, manager of product innovation for Education First, is acting as manager for the Student Journalist Program, which allows students to document their trip. Martin is participating in the program and will be taking photos and writing articles for The Marietta Times while she attends the summit.
DiMascio said there is a vast importance for students to experience new culture with a globalized world.
"One (part) is experiencing other cultures and interacting with other people around the world," she said, adding that the second part was having the opportunity to travel in work. "That's becoming more common and we need to prepare people for that."
DiMascio said young people have a huge opportunity and capacity to change the world.
"That will become really important for them as they enter the world," she said.
Meanwhile, Martin is looking forward to having a job that allows travel.
"I don't see myself working (for a company) without the opportunity to travel," Martin said.