SIDNEY — Tactical Solutions Firearms & Accessories’ Mark Henman and Scarlet Ashworth hosted 18 Dayton-area high school, foreign exchange students along with their host families and volunteers for International Day on the Range, May 13.
Most of the students had never seen a gun, much less touch or shoot one. Sixty people had the opportunity to shoot rifles, handguns and skeet; try their hands at archery and play Twister, soccer, cornhole or toss a football. Students also toured an ambulance and capped off the day with a picnic dinner.
Students are from Austria, Chile, China, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mali, Pakistan, Philippines, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Thailand. They attended Springboro, Kettering Fairmont, Fairborn, Clinton-Massie, Sidney, Tippecanoe, Archbishop Alter, Waynesville, Beavercreek and Wayne high schools.
The students are completing their year in the United States as part of the AFS-USA Program. Some of the students are here on a full scholarship as part of the YES Sponsored Programs.
The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program is a high school exchange program funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. This public diplomacy initiative builds bridges of international understanding, especially between Americans and people in countries with significant Muslim populations.
The YES Program evolved from a generalized recognition that public diplomacy efforts had been neglected in many countries around the world for many years and that the effects came into stark focus in the aftermath of the events of Sept. 11.
YES students reflect a wide range of socioeconomic, cultural and religious affiliations within their countries, including people with disabilities. YES participants are selected through an open, merit-based process in each country.
AFS took a lead in rallying the exchange community and the Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau of the U.S. Department of State to approach Congress with a coherent plan for support of meaningful opportunities for youth exchange as a key component of renewed commitment to building bridges between citizens of the U.S. and countries around the world, particularly those with large Muslim populations.
AFS is always looking for families to host students or individuals to volunteer. For information, visit www.afsusa.org.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.