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Board announces end of Lew-Port Community Ambassador Program

by jmaloni
Sat, Feb 19th 2011 09:00 am

Submitted by board members from the Lewiston-Porter Community Ambassador Program

It is with deep regret that the board members announced on Feb. 9 the discontinuance of the Lewiston-Porter Community Ambassador Program.

Spokesperson Dr. R. Nils Olsen reported that, for 56 years, the Community Ambassador Program has strived to foster intercultural understanding, tolerance, and friendship by sending a local high school student, selected in a competitive process by members of the community, to participate in an international travel and service program sponsored by the Experiment in International Living.

"It has provided students residing in the Lewiston-Porter School District the opportunity to travel to foreign nations with the Experiment in International Living for four to six weeks, including language and cultural training, living with a host family and completing a community service project," he said. "Unfortunately, confronting the combination of social-economic changes in our community and nation and continuing escalation in the cost of the program that must be locally raised each year, the board determined it was no longer possible to sustain the program."

The program was founded by the former Adult Education Department at Lewiston-Porter School District.

Each Community Ambassador was selected and supported by community organizations and businesses during a competitive process that culminated each year with an annual reception to introduce the new ambassador to the community and to raise funds that supported the ambassador's travel related expenses. 

Upon their return, the ambassadors provided illustrated presentations about their unique cross-cultural experiences, free of charge, for any interested local service organization or school classrooms. With 56 years of continuous operation, this program is the longest running sponsorship in the nation of a community ambassador to participate in an Experiment for International Living experience, said Olsen.

Also noteworthy is that Milly Reeves of Lewiston has been a part of the program during the entire 56 years and greatly assisted its sustainability. She reports that the 69 students who participated in the program (some years more than one ambassador was selected) traveled to 35 countries on four continents. "I've been around the world in the eyes of our ambassadors," said Reeves, beaming pride.

The 2010 Community Ambassador, Shannon McDonald, was the only ambassador to select Turkey for her International Living Experience and, true to the 56-year tradition; she is available to give her engaging and informative presentation about her experience. Contact her at [email protected] or at 754-9168.

In closing, board members of the Lewiston-Porter Community Ambassador Program would like to thank all the service organizations, businesses and individuals for sustaining its mission through their support.

A final public reception is being planned this spring to thank the community for its support and to celebrate one of this community's unique international service programs and the nation's only community-supported participation in the Experiment for International Living.

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