Cambrian: Opinion

John Brannon: Here is a sure-fire investment for you

From left to right, Christin Adams, Miles Trevelyan and Maddi Hald, will be visiting the British Isles this summer.
From left to right, Christin Adams, Miles Trevelyan and Maddi Hald, will be visiting the British Isles this summer. PHOTO BY MERLE BASSETT

Oftentimes a person’s true value is measured by what that individual leaves behind as a legacy.

In 1956, President Eisenhower conceived a program titled “People to People,” a student ambassador travel program. The intent of this program is that students will return home with an appreciation for societal differences and that this experience will help bridge cultural and political borders, making the world a better place for future generations.

Coast Union High School guidance counselor Jennifer Duarte (pronounced “Dwart”) describes this adventure as an opportunity for young students to experience various countries with friends, independent from family. This year, three

Coast Union freshmen — Maddi Hald, Christin Adams and Miles

Trevelyan — will be visiting England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland for 19 days. They will depart on July 3.

Maddi, 14, was born

and raised in

Cayucos. She was nominated while a student at Cayucos Elementary and has previously traveled to Mexico, Canada and the Dominican Republic with her parents.

The Cambria roots of Christin, 15, go back to her great-great-great- grandfather. When school is over each day, she proceeds to a dance studio in Atascadero for three or four hours of dance lessons. She aspires to be a professional dancer someday.

Miles, 15, is also from Cayucos. He is uncertain as to a career, but being an engineer is certainly an option.

Students are nominated to the program by teachers, counselors and their peers. After nomination, each student must apply and be interviewed. Those selected attend regular meetings where they learn about the history, culture and government of the countries they will visit.

“We also arrange for students to stay with families for three days during the visit,” Jennifer explained. “Some of the students occasionally express an uncertainty when it comes to living with strangers for these few days. They are concerned that they might not be able to connect with their hosts, or vice versa. But they return to the group with new friends and a realization that despite cultural differences, people are more alike than not.”

These students are the embodiment of Dwight Eisenhower’s vision in 1956.

The selection committee prefers to create travel groups of around 40 students, with a student- leader ratio of 10-1. Jennifer’s group will include 10 other students from San Luis Obispo County who will be teamed up with 30 students from Southern California.

In 2008, Ms. Duarte escorted a group to Japan for two weeks. She then toured England, France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands with 40 students in 2009.

But there is a catch: This program costs money. With school budget makers struggling to make ends meet, the funds ($7,000 per student) must be raised by family, friends and concerned citizens. We all have to keep in mind that schools and educational experiences are not expenses — they are investments in the future leaders of our nation.

A fundraiser is planned at Cambria’s YMCA Teen Center in the near future. This event will be announced in The Cambrian. Call Kim Adams for more information, 927-0952.

E-mail John Brannon at