International Foreign Youth Exchange holds lifelong
memories for participants
By Beth Scott
COSHOCTON – In 1957, Alice Moore’s life changed when
she became the fi rst person from Coshocton County to
participate in the International Foreign Youth Exchange
“I had known about the program from the beginning,”
she said. “We had had an exchange student in our home
IFYE began shortly after World War II and the fi rst
exchange took place in 1948 when 17 students from the
United States traveled to diff erent countries through-
out the world to gain a better understanding of various
cultures. Nine years after its inception, Moore traveled to
Sweden and left the United States on June 16, 1957, only
two days after graduating from Th e Ohio State Universi-
“At that time, I don’t think we had a choice on where we
could go,” said Moore. “I got this thing started and it just
swept through the county. I believe over the years, fi ve or
six students from Coshocton County were able to go.”
Moore stayed in Sweden for fi ve months, returning to
the United States that November.
“I learned a lot of things,” she said. “How their farmers
do their work and how their mothers took care of their
children and how they travel.”
Not only was Moore the fi rst student from the county
to participate in the program, she also was the only one
to travel to her host country via boat. She returned to the
States on Th e Queen Mary.
Moore said her experience in Sweden was something
she will never forget and that she kept in contact with
some of her host families over the years.
“I got to spend time with my fellow IFYEs and learn
about them,” said Moore. “It was a wonderful experi-
However, when Moore returned to New York in No-
vember, she had contracted the Asian Flu.
“When we got back to New York, the grocery manufac-
turers were hosting our group at the Waldorf Astoria for
breakfast,” she said. “I felt horrible, but I thought, I’ll nev-
er get this experience again, so I have to go, and I did.”
“One time, I was in a village for
two weeks where no one spoke
English. We had to communicate
via sign language.”
- Bob Buxton
While in Sweden, Moore had the opportunity to travel
for a week and went north of the Arctic Circle and stayed
in an igloo. She was also able to visit Switzerland and
Holland before returning to the United States. After her
return, Moore gave speeches on her time in Sweden.
“I stopped counting after 100,” said Moore. “I didn’t
turn anyone down if they wanted me to speak.”
One person that Moore inspired to participate in the
IFYE program through one of her speeches was Bob
Buxton traveled to India in 1969 and he is planning to
attend a 50th anniversary convention to visit with other
APRIL 17, 2019
about everything from how to plant and cultivate rice
to how to prepare a meal in the Indian kitchen and how
marriages are performed in India.
“One thing we had to do was write a newsletter every
month,” said Buxton. “We sent the letter to our state 4-H
extension specialist and then she would type it up and
send to our families.”
“Our objective was to work with
their 4-K program to develop small
projects to raise in the home.”
- Phyllis Debnar
Phyllis Debnar traveled to India as part of the Internation-
al Foreign Youth Exchange Program; however she was
exposed to the culture long before she traveled there. She
is pictured at left with an exchange student from India who
was staying with her neighbors the Martin Family. Debnar
was about 5-years-old in this picture.
people from around the country who have participated
in the IFYE program. When Buxton went to India, there
was a group of seven who went with him, two being from
Ohio. He remembers buying a new Miranda camera and
sending pictures and letters back home to his family.
“It was a true cultural exchange program,” said
Buxton. “We didn’t stay in hotels. We stayed with host
Buxton said that the language barrier was not a prob-
lem as most Indians spoke English as a second language.
“One time, I was in a village for two weeks where no
one spoke English,” he said. “We had to communicate
via sign language.”
He remembered that village was like a wagon wheel
where there was a well at the center and the village was
situated around the well consisting of 30 to 40 families.
He also remembers one host family who had electric-
ity, which was scarce in that country, and Buxton was
able to take a bath in a trough with clean running water.
His host family was amazed by his shampoo he used to
wash his hair.
“I think it gave me a greater appreciation for what we
have here,” said Buxton. “I like to tell people my experi-
ences and encourage 4-H and FFA members to partici-
pate to broaden their horizons.”
While in India, Buxton wrote home once a week and
would sometimes only receive mail every couple of
weeks, depending on where he was in India. He visited
three diff erent geographical areas in India and wrote
Th e last week Buxton was in India, he traveled to Dar-
“Th e last week we were in India, we got to do a little
R&R and we traveled to Darjeeling, which is the only
place in India where you can see Mt. Everest. Th ey told
us to get up early because the sunrise would be spectac-
ular, and it was. On our way back to the United States,
one girl in our group had a friend who was married to
a guy in the Army, so we fl ew back through Europe and
spent some time in Austria, England, and Germany. One
night, we got to see Ginger Rogers in London. Th at was a
Phyllis Debnar was inspired to travel through the IFYE
program from her 4-H advisor, Olive Martin. She and
Martin’s son, Ron, went the same year.
“She was constantly motivating you to do something
new, something diff erent,” said Debnar.
Debnar traveled to Kenya, Africa.
“Th ey had a program there similar to 4-H called 4-K,”
she said. “Our objective was to work with their 4-K pro-
gram to develop small projects to raise in the home.”
While in Africa, Debnar lived with 15 host families
and moved each week to a diff erent family. She lived
with eight to 10 diff erent tribes where at least one person
spoke English. Twelve of her host families lived in mud
houses and she was surprised that some of her host
families had more than one wife. She wrote in one of her
newsletters that one of her host father’s wives was only
one year older than she was.
She said that one family had a tea plantation and she
learned about tea production while another raised hogs
and after Debnar returned to the United States, he came
and stayed with her family. She also stayed with fi sher-
men, dairy farmers, and wheat producers.
“Th e farming was so diverse depending on what part
of the country you’re in,” said Debnar. “It was just a
new appreciation to experience a diff erent lifestyle and
country and what the people have been through. It was
just a cultural awakening and being more accepting of
diversities. One of the mothers I worked with wanted me
to learn to sew and make a basket. We put in an Amer-
ican nickel and a Kenyan nickel and a couple of stones.
Just a person extending themselves to you that you’ll
probably never see again. I’m hoping that Coshocton can
get kids interested in it. I think this is still a really sound
program. It gives them a good background living in
For more information on IFYE, visit their website at
THE BEACON 5-B