Sunday, September 30, 2007

Local Teacher travels to Egypt for a meeting of the minds

Lake Hopatcong resident and teacher, Dr. Nancy Westerband is a people’s person in more ways than one. Currently working in New York as what she calls an “Intervener,” Dr. Westerband will soon be traveling to Egypt in November for a discussion among fellow teachers around the world in the People to People Citizen Ambassador Program.

It will be the good doctor’s first trip to Egypt, and also her first experience participating in something so grand and beneficial to the worldly educational system: “I’m really looking forward to this,” says Dr. Westerband, who sounds as if she’s smiling over the phone, “It’s a new experience in my educational career.”

New experience as it might be, it actually wouldn’t be the first time she’s been outside the fifty states of America, as she’s actually spent time across the seas in another location, this one much closer to home.

“I’ve done 32 years of teaching,” says Dr. Westerband, “ten years in Puerto Rico before I [finally] came to New York in 1985.”

Receiving her doctorate in 2005 in Supervising and Curriculum Development, Dr. Westerband currently assists her principal in New York City (“It’s better if you think of me as a mentor”), and works the supervisor support program. Still, the prestigious opportunity the People to People program granted her just didn’t land on her doorstep like a strewn newspaper. She actually had to be accepted for it, the letter coming to her in her mailbox just last summer.

“You have to apply [for it], and they either accept you or they don’t,” says Dr. Westerband.

And luckily for her, with the amount of experience she had under her belt, they took the bait and accepted her, a cruise up the Nile just being one of the many fringe benefits that comes along with the package.

As new and exciting as the People to People Program sounds, though, it actually dates back to the Dwight D. Eisenhower days, as his granddaughter, Mary J Eisenhower, is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the highly influential group that’s been in existence since the 1950s.

The original purpose of the program, according to a message given my Mary Eisenhower herself, is for ordinary people of a similar profession to travel to other places around the world to get a better understanding of how people operate underneath different cultures. This is all with the intention of discovering that while they might have a different mindset or a different way of seeing the world, they’re really not so different after all when it comes to how they would like to see the future—a better and safer place for all.

And with Dr. Westerband’s people and teaching skills, hopefully she can add to that universal mission, she’s one heck of a people’s person after all.

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