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Student returns from Europe, prepares for Japan

Tanner Yocom is going places. Not only with his academic intelligence, but literally, places all over the globe.

This past summer, the 15-year-old ninth grader at Detroit Lakes High School traveled Europe with EF Tours. As a seventh grader, he saw a poster inviting students to attend a meeting for the European tour. He did and became interested.

After two years of meetings, Yocom joined people from Iowa and California to tour England, Germany, Italy and France.

"I couldn't sleep that night, as to be expected," he said of the night before leaving for Europe.

Yocom's mother, Joan, said she wasn't nervous sending her son on the tour because EF Tours had a good reputation and has taken many students on tours over the years.

"It was to learn about culture and have a nice little holiday," Yocom said.

He is now preparing for his next big tour. Yocom has been chosen as a People to People Student Ambassador of Peace to travel to Japan in 2007.

Yocom said he received an invitation in the mail from People to People to join local students for a tour of Europe.

"I wasn't that excited to visit the exact same places," he said of just being in Europe.

While at the meeting, a leader from the Twin Cities group overheard Yocom mention he was more interested in the trip to Japan. She interviewed him and he was accepted into the Twin Cities group instead.

Before the trip next summer, Yocom will attend culture classes in the Cities to prepare for the worldly differences of Japan.

Besides getting to see another country, Yocom will receive high school credit and a college credit for the trip. The harder part of the trip is the preparation financially.

Yocom plans to raise the entire $5,000 through fund-raising efforts. So far, he plans to have a hot drink stand at the dog sled races this winter, collect cell phones that are no longer being used and hosting a dinner with Christian recording artist Robert Segovia on Dec. 3.

He said he's looking forward to the trip "just to see the culture because it's so different. I'll be able to understand more."

With all these plans and travels at this age, what does Yocom have planned for 10th, 11th and 12th grade?

"Tenth, cure cancer; eleventh, take off, and twelfth, world peace," he said jokingly.

In reality, Yocom has his sites set on Harvard. He's still debating between law and theology, but he has begun studies at Northwestern University in Illinois, taking Latin.

"It's the basis for all language," he said. "You can learn more about the English language."

In seventh and eighth grades, Yocom tested in the top 5 percent of the nation, and was granted the ability to take the ACT and SAT tests early. He received the Midwest Academic Talent Search Award for test.

"I was definitely impressed they even have something like that," he said of the award.

He said by testing early, he feels he can excel to the Ivy League college.

But before he's off to Harvard, Yocom will finish his time at DLHS and plans to travel with People to People in the summers. He'd like to travel to Antarctica or China in 10th grade, be a foreign exchange student during 11th grade and travel to Australia in 12th.