World Link, an international exchange organization for high school students, visited the IMS board meeting on June 10th to recognize Principal Tony Miller and the school for their outstanding contribution to government sponsored exchange programs. IMS has been hosting students on the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX), America-Serbia Montenegro Youth Leadership Exchange (A-SMYLE), and the Youth Exchange and Studies (YES) Programs for four years and Principal Miller was instrumental in facilitating the enrollment of World Link exchange students at IMS. In addition to hosting, World Link involved IMS students in a two-way exchange with a school in Poland and IMS students and staff traveled to that country as a representative of the U.S. Department of State.
World Link President, Curtis Stutzman, told the board that IMS’s involvement in these official government sponsored exchange programs has brought a lot of positive attention to the school and the Mennonite community as a peace loving religion that works to serve all people throughout the world. Stutzman remarked, “On numerous occasions, I have heard representatives of the U.S. Government in Washington, DC speak highly of the genuine dedication to service that IMS students have and how proud they are to have them involved in State Department citizen diplomacy efforts with students from many different countries.”
Through World Link, IMS has hosted students from Russia, Serbia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Albania and Turkey. Both Stutzman, and local coordinator, Sherrie Nisly, commended IMS staff and students on the tremendous compassion that they showed to the blind student from Turkey that IMS hosted in 2011-12. World Link announced at the meeting that three IMS students; Sam Swartzendruber, Michaela Gingerich, and Anya Slabaugh have been nominated by World Link for the Presidential Volunteer Service Award signed by President Obama for their volunteer efforts with Benay Gozekamen. They will receive their recognition from World Link later this month.
World Link presented Principal Miller, and the IMS board with an International Partner Award for their contributions to World Link and State Department exchange programs. IMS is the first high school to be recognized in this manner by World Link and later this month, IMS will also receive a certificate from the U.S. Department of State as a Culture 2 Culture Medallion School.