“Always try to associate yourself closely with and learn as much as you can from those who know more than you, who do better than you, who see more clearly than you. Apart from the rewards of friendship, the association might pay off at some unforeseen time – that is only an accidental byproduct. The important thing is that the learning will make you a better person.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
Are you familiar with People to People International? It is the organization created by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 designed to promote peace, understanding and tolerance through shared experiences and interactions among people from different cultures. As such, hundreds of thousands of people – some as young as 10 years of age – have traveled the world with People to People as ambassadors getting to know citizens of the world as they learn about one another’s history, culture, background, food, education, art, language and the like.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about President Eisenhower and about his People to People International program as I am the proud mama of one such People to People Student Ambassador – my son is currently traveling in Europe with the organization. He is one among a delegation of 24 students and their two teacher chaperones – they are not only getting to know one another, but they are also interacting with children from other countries, trying new food (turns out, he’s not much for frog legs or escargot, but now he can say he’s tried them, right?), seeing amazing sites, learning world history and gaining a sense of independence that he might not have otherwise acquired.
Like Eisenhower who, in reflecting back over his life, credited his success to his parents, teachers, friends and senior officers in the United States Army, my child is likely to one day look back over his own life and consider the people with whom he surrounded himself and know that this experience shaped the man he became.
Frankly, it doesn’t take a trip to Europe or anywhere else in the world to decide to associate ourselves with open-minded, worldly people of high intellect, curiosity, varied experiences. We must only decide the time is now to connect with others in order learn from them and gain a sense of clarity we often struggle to acquire on our own. Certainly friendship and personal betterment will have made the interaction and our lives worthwhile.
So, look around at the company you keep. What are you doing to learn from, about and with them? Are there others with whom you should also associate? Do it – do it now. You never know, that association may, indeed, pay off at some unforeseen time and make you a better person.