Students building bridges across the American divide
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of CBS News
Posted: November 12th, 2023
This past summer more than 300 high school graduates signed up for a unique student exchange program. Unlike the well-known foreign exchange model ... this program gives students the opportunity to soak in a brand-new culture without ever leaving the country. It's called the American Exchange Project, or AEP for short, co-founded by 29-year-old David McCullough III. "We fund kids to spend a week in the summer after senior year in an American town that is politically and socio-economically and culturally very different from the one that they're growing up in," McCullough said. One student, Alex, said, "My groups of friends are not really close to each other, so I feel like I've actually bonded with you guys more than I have with my own friends." One girl from South Dakota said, "I've never been a part of a community where ... I'm not the minority, I'm not the odd one out. So, this is very much an experience that I really appreciate so much." McCullough hopes to offer the program to a million students a year by decade's end, and all free of charge, thanks to big name donors, including the likes of Steven Spielberg. "I think this all ought to be as typical to the American high school experience as the prom," McCullough said. There's that old adage about walking a mile in someone else's shoes; the problem is, you can't see the person face-to-face if you're walking away. What David McCullough is hoping is the next generation will turn around, look those they differ with in the eye, and just talk.
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