Ambassador to the world

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 14, 2007

“I have long believed, as have many before me, that peaceful relations between nations requires understanding and mutual respect between individuals.” President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Founder of People to People International.

Through People to People International, 23 students including three delegation leaders became ambassadors from the Tri-State area traveling to England and France.

Among those traveling was Brandie Lynch, 16, of Ironton. She is a junior at Ironton High School, president of her class and photo editor of the yearbook.

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The central theme of the program is to enhance international understanding and friendship through educational, cultural and humanitarian activities.

President Dwight D Eisenhower founded the program on Sept. 11, 1956. In 1961, the program was privatized and relocated to Kansas City, Missouri, as a not-for-profit organization.

Early supporters of the program include a prestigious list with people like Walt Disney, Bob Hope, J.C. Hall, founder of Hallmark Cards Inc. and many others.

President Eisenhower’s granddaughter, Mary, serves as president and chief executive officer.

When Lynch received a letter from People to People inviting her to join the program, she had never heard of it.

“At first we thought it was just a joke,” she said. “We got to checking it out and found out it was a real program.”

Although several of her friends were invited, she was the only one from IHS to go this summer.

In order to go, Lynch had to come up with $6,000 and she started fundraising, having bake sales, selling special pens her family makes, made cookbooks to sell and she had a craft show.

“I had a lot of support from local businesses, family and friends,” she said.

People to People began having monthly meetings with the students who were interested in going.

“You really get in this group that winds up being your family when you get back,” Lynch said. “We were together for three weeks and we all bonded and I still keep in touch with most of them.”

The group began the trip in London, touring and taking a ride on the London Eye, the world’s tallest observation wheel, overlooking London.

“It was kind of scary because it doesn’t stop,” Lynch said. “It continues moving and in order to get on, you actually have to run on. We fit our whole delegation in there. It never stops moving.”

Although they were in hotels most of the time, for a few days they were able to visit with host families.

She said one of the most interesting meals was one the host family made called “bangers and mash.”

Lynch took some of her hand made pens with her to give away.

In Paris, she climbed the Eiffel Tower and at the Louvre Museum she saw the Mona Lisa.

“It was amazing,” Lynch said. “I always heard that Paris was dirty but it was spotless. They actually have people go around and clean the city. I was amazed that everybody was so nice and so welcoming.”