The Iowa Attorney General’s office is asking a company that sends students to other countries to modify the way it offers them its travel-abroad program. Attorney general’s spokesman Bob Brammer says the student ambassador program “People to People” notifies parents that their schoolchildren have been “selected” to travel to another country. He says it may well be a good program, but it puts pressure on a parent and might make them decide differently if they think their child was honored, recommended, or selected from some academic list when that may not be the case.
The letters from the student ambassador plan say that’s why they’re contacting people, but this week when they sent one to a woman whose son died at the age of seven weeks more than a dozen years ago she showed the letter to the attorney general’s office. Their inquiry resulted in a promise that the company will change its pitch to parents who have to pay if they decide to have their child travel as a student ambassador. “People just deserve an honest accounting,” Brammer says, “especially when a trip’s going to cost something like five-thousand dollars.”
Brammer says they organize lots of tours that take kids from elementary, middle and high schools to go abroad for a week or two, but academic honors have nothing to do with the advertising pitch.