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People to People History

“I have long believed, as have many before me, that peaceful relations between nations require mutual respect between individuals.” – President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower believed that ordinary citizens of different nations, if able to communicate directly, would solve their differences and find a way to live in peace. In 1956, he put those beliefs into action and created People to People Ambassador Programs.

In 1956, our 34th president called a special White House conference of American leaders, who joined him in creating the People to People initiative. As a result, the People to People mission developed around personal exchanges and firsthand experiences with other cultures.

Since 1963, Student Ambassador Programs has taken thousands of young Americans across international borders. Venturing abroad or on our own continent, Student Ambassadors return home with a greater sense of what it means to be a good neighbor and a global citizen.

Walt Disney created the “It’s a Small World” attraction in 1964 after his participation in the People to People International White House conference. This attraction has now introduced over 250 million people to the concept that we may have our differences, but underneath we all share the same core values.

It is amazing how Disney’s words are just as appropriate today as they were when introduced in 1964. With the advancement of computers and the age of the Internet, our ability to communicate with our friends and counterparts all over the globe has never been easier. Perhaps, People to People International was a bit ahead of its time, or perhaps the concept is timeless.

As Student Ambassadors and leaders travel under the banner of People to People, they represent the best of our country: hope, courage, openness and a love of peace.

President John F. Kennedy said it best: “The nature of People to People activities is as varied as the individuals involved. The housewife whose recipe contains the yeast of kindness, the soldier whose arms embrace homeless waifs, the doctor who heals with humility, all assert a single theme—the power of people, acting as individuals, to respond imaginatively to the world’s need for peace.”

Quoted from the People to People website: