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Teen-Age Exchange Program's 10th Birthday To Bring 1,000 To City

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Teen-Age Exchange Program’s 10th Birthday To Bring 1,000 To City

About 1,000 people are expected to attend the 10th anniversary celebration of the Youth for Understanding Teen-Age Exchange Program Saturday evening at Ann Arbor High School.

The program is sponsored by the Michigan Council of Churches and is administered by the Ann Arbor Washtenaw Council of Churches, of which Mrs. Rachel Andreson is director.

A combination of Swedish and Danish smorgasbord potluck dinner is scheduled at 5:30 p.m. in the high school cafeterias. Arrangements for the dinner are being made by Miss Mary Ellen Lewis and a host committee.

The program in the high school auditorium will begin at 7:30 p.m. The 70-member Michigan Chorale, a group of high school students who will tour Latin America next summer, will sing under the direction of Lester McCoy. Ann Staniski is accompanist.

Main speaker will be George Allport of Belfast, Ireland, chairman of the Irish Youth for Understanding committee, who will discuss the exchange program.

Special guests will include Mr. and Mrs. Frans Barens of Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Ulrich Zahlten of Hamburg, Germany, Maestro Eric Simon of Uruguay, and the Rev. Placido Reitmeier of Mexico.

Other special guests from consulates in Detroit also will attend the celebration.

Each student who has participated in the exchange program since its inception in 1951 will receive a hand-made program pin. It has hands clasping the torch of freedom and a book which might symbolize education, knowledge or the Bible. Sleeves on one arm on the pin bear the red, white and blue, and stars of the American flag. Sleeves on the second hand will have colors and symbols of the flag of the country the exchange student has visited or from which he comes.

In 1951 the Youth for Understanding program brought the first teen-age students to Michigan to live with families and to study in state high schools. That year there were 26,000 applicants in Germany and 450 students were recommended to the U. S. State Department for placement. Three hundred and seventy-five of the students were assigned to other agencies that operated exchange programs.

Two Rotary Club in a Detroit area were planning a direct exchange program between European and Michigan clubs and the development of their plans were asked to consider placing the remaining 75 students in Michigan under their sponsorship.

The Rotary Clubs agreed to take on the project. Then during the middle of the year, the Rotary committee and representatives of the State Department requested that the formal administration of the program continue with Mrs. Andresen as director.

At the end of the year, the Rotary districts recommended teen-age exchange to local clubs as a project for their international relations committees.

Youth for Understanding continued on a state-wide basis with the continued sponsorship of the Michigan Council of Churches. The Michigan council then delegated the entire program to the Ann Arbor-Washtenaw council.

Basic purpose of the interfaith and inter-racial program is to develop understanding through a living experience with a family in another country. It is felt that this experience sends students back to their own countries with a better understanding not only of themselves, but of the country in which they have been living.

“We want the students to feel a primary loyalty to a family and the community in which they live, not loyalty to an organization,’’ Mrs. Andresen comments. Probably the next area of real extension and development of the exchange program will be in Latin America, she says, explaining that up to now the program has been developed mainly in western European countries.

“By 1963, we hope to have some students come here from the newer African countries,” she added.

“One of the real problems is selection and screening of the students to participate in the program. Most of the problems we have are those of an individual making adjustments to living in another country. We tell the youngsters that they are with each family because that family wants them.”

Financing of travel is done by families of the participating students and individuals and interested groups in the community. The U. S. State Department provides some financial support through an annual grant-in-aid for promotion and development.

Since 1951, 954 international students have come to Michigan to live with families and to study in high schools here. In addition, 345 Mexican students have been brought to the state for the program.

Michigan students who have gone overseas total 1,900.

Newest part of the program is the Michigan Choral, a group of young musicians who share a living and concert experience overseas. The chorale was organized in 1958. Members of this mixed ensemble are high school seniors chosen on the basis of vocal ability, scholarship and leadership qualifications.

Plans for organizing a symphonic youth band now are under way.

Home calling, in which a group of counselors are available to help both the families and the exchange students, is an important part of the program, Mrs. Andresen says.

Countries that have co-operated in the program since its inception include Germany, Austria, Cuba, Honduras, Uruguay, Spain, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, England the Netherlands, Israel, South Africa, Sweden, Italy, Bolivia, Wales, Ireland, Iraq, Finland, Norway, Japan, Mexico, Brazil, Switzerland, Columbia, Argentina, Chile and Peru.

All students who have participated in the Youth for Understanding Teen-Age Exchange Program will receive a pin similar to the one sketched here.