How far will your dreams take you?

Ask Rachal Cross in a few months and she might be able to provide more than just an opinion.

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The 17-year-old Sebeka student will be leaving Wadena County behind this summer with only one familiar friend-her clarinet. She will be joining the Minnesota Ambassadors of Music for a seven-country tour of Europe in July.

After Sebeka Band Director Dave Kerkvliet brought up the European trip in 2018 to his band members and nominated Cross, she went about raising the capital to help in paying for the trip.

The Ann Bancroft Foundation came up with $500 of the expense.

"The grant is from a foundation that likes to help young girls about my age go on these trips to just get a new feel for the world," Cross said. "I'm going to Europe with music students, so it's also a cultural exposure thing, and that is what the foundation was giving me the grant for."

Bancroft is a world-renowned explorer of the Arctic and Antarctic. The daring 62-year-old was born in Mendota Heights, Minn. and lives in Scandia, Minn. After starting out in life as a teacher, Bancroft resigned to become a member of the Will Steger International Nole Pole Expedition in 1986. Along with the Steger group, she became the first woman to reach the North Pole on foot and by sled. In 1992 she became the first woman to reach both the North and South Poles. Bancroft has also taken exploring trips in Greenland and up the largest river in India-the Ganges.

The grant by the Bancroft Foundation is a help, but Cross is bearing the rest of the $6,000 cost by working, fundraising, going after other grants and obtaining contributions from businesses.

Cross hopes to "get a feel for the world" as she joins 100 other Minnesota music students from more than 30 schools in traveling to England, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and Liechtenstein. The musicians will perform on stage at each of their stops, most of the time in parks but at least once in a concert hall.

Kerkvliet, or "Mr. K" as Cross likes to call him, has seen a number of his Sebeka music students make the trip and he knows what a great experience it has been for them.

"They've shared amazing pictures with me, experiences and even videos," Kerkvliet said. "They've thought it was an incredible, life-changing experience that they will never forget."

Kerkvliet is thrilled about the opportunity his hard-working student has earned by going through the application process and being selected by a panel of ABF volunteers. More than 4,000 Minnesota girls ages five through high school graduation have received Bancroft grants since 1997.

"Just the opportunity to perform music and experience other cultures I think gives them more of a world vision. It's just a fantastic experience."

The group will leave Minneapolis around July 6 and will be traveling in Europe for about 2 ½ weeks.

Cross has taken a trip to Costa Rica in Latin America with her Spanish class, but the trip to Europe will be her first overseas.

Will she able to speak and understand all the different languages she will hear?

"I'm going to be able to speak English but not much more than that," she laughed.

Some of the criteria Cross had to meet for the Bancroft grant was that she had to take her trip as a junior or senior, it had to be a trip that would help her culturally, one that would help her grow as a person and would be both educational and informal.

While Cross expects to do most of her exploring with her group and with their guides, the musicians will be given chances to strike out on their own as well.

"As a group, we're going to things like the Tower (of London) but we're also going to have an opportunity to go and explore on our own," Cross said. "Most of the things we're going to be covering on our trip are things that I would really like to see."

In addition to the band, Cross has been involved in cross country, track, student council, National Honor Society and Knowledge Bowl.

"I do enjoy school and I like to think I am a good student," Cross said.

So where might she go when her days at Sebeka High School are over? Cross is looking at Moorhead State, North Dakota State and the University of Minnesota-Duluth at this time.

"I really want to become a clinical social worker, like a therapist," Cross said. "I like helping people. It really fascinates me to kind of piece together what's going on in someone else's head."