Hannah Yeiser talked about her March trip to Washington DC with the People to People program. She attended the Student Ambassadors World Leadership Forum.
By LINDA MESSMER
Hannah Yeiser loves to travel and meet new people. The friendly, outgoing, inquisitive 12-year-old has natural leaderships skills. So her North Clay 6th grade social studies teacher, Mrs. Rita Rose, nominated her as a People to People Student Ambassador for the World Leadership Forum.
The People to People program was established by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956. He believed that ordinary citizens, if able to communicate directly, would solve their differences and find a way to live in peace.
People to People originated to aid communications between working citizens. But Eisenhower recognized the power of young people as future leaders. So in 1963, Keith Tatham, an active leader in the People to People program, organized the first delegation of Student Ambassadors.
The World Leadership Forum followed. The Leadership Forum allows the young scholars to explore American history, the traits and styles of America's government and understand the meaning and background incorporated within the monuments, memorials and museums of the nation's capital.
With her parents' permission, Hannah jumped at the chance to spend a week touring Washington DC with a group of kids her age from all over the country. Even though the World Leadership Forum syllabus said the trip would inform and educate, help develop leadership skills and improve critical thinking, Hannah just thought it would be fun.
She left from Indianapolis International Airport March 22, wearing the designated Forum "uniform" of khaki pants, white shirt and blue vest. Having flown before, Hannah was excited and anxious for take off. She even helped a fellow Indiana student from Rushville, who had never flown, calm his fears so he too could enjoy the trip.
"I wanted to go somewhere new," Hannah said when asked her reasons for participating in the World Leadership Forum. "I like to meet new people and thought it would be fun to go to states I'd never been to before."
Hannah was not disappointed. The daughter of Rochell and Lee Reberger of Brazil and Jay and Sabrina Yeiser of Clarksville, she recently talked with a Brazil Times reporter about the parts of the trip she enjoyed the most.
"I really liked the Lincoln Monument," Hannah said, her enthusiasm showing in her eyes. "At night it's all lit up in purple lights."
Hannah also liked the Arlington Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Changing of the Guard. The 45 minute presentation included representatives from each branch of the military and the Foreign Defense Minister placed a wreath on the Tomb.
Besides interacting with her new friends, other highlights of the trip for Hannah were the Capital Building and the Smithsonian Institute.
"I enjoyed all of it except I didn't like the International Spy Museum," Hannah said. "It was too crowded and didn't have much to see."
Her parents thought the trip was a great experience for Hannah.
"I was really happy with the organization," Rochell said. "I appreciated the effort they spent keeping the kids busy and involved and in the security they provided."
Lee, too thought the trip was worth the expense, which added up to about $2,000.
"It sparked some historical interest in Hannah," he said. "With all the historical places she visited, Hannah and I had some really good conversations."
Hannah said she would encourage other kids to go.
"I think it's a learning experience that's really fun," she said. "I want to go again. But I want to go somewhere else, some place I've never been."
She looked at her parents with part excitement, part hope and perhaps a little bit of pleading.
"Next time I'd like to go to Australia or Egypt."