Lessons not always in class

Published 11:04 am Thursday, September 24, 2009

What does the Great Barrier Reef in Australia look like up close? What works of art are on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris? Is Antarctica a good summer destination?

For more than 50 years the People to People Ambassador Programs have provided answers to questions like this for youth and professionals.

Some things can be learned from a textbook but others cannot truly be appreciated unless they are experienced.

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It is with that in mind that Ironton High School sophomore Natasha Grubb hopes to broaden her horizons next year as a participant in the program that was founded by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 as a way to promote cultural exchange and understanding, all with the greater goal of bringing the nations of the world together in peace.

“I have long believed, as have many before me, that peaceful relations between nations require mutual respect between individuals,” Eisenhower said. And that concept still drives the organization that provides a variety of exchange programs for youth and adults alike.

The program focuses on education but also developing bonds between individuals of all nationalities by participating in community service work, getting access to all aspects of the culture of the nations visited and learning through experience.

People to People has also shown a tremendous ability to cross political boundaries by gaining support from Republican and Democratic presidents over the past five decades.

But it doesn’t come cheap. Each program has varying costs. For Grubb, 20 days in Australia will cost $8,000.

The family is seeking support from area businesses, selling T-shirts and planning a variety of other fundraisers.

For more information, call (740) 237-4229 or (740) 237-6709 or visit www.natashacontributions.info

Classrooms and textbooks are crucial to learning but developing the leaders of tomorrow starts with gaining life experiences today.