President Reagan answered questions from students at Fallston (Md.) High School about U.S.-Soviet relations following his meeting last week with General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev.
President Reagan brought the message of last month’s summit meeting to a Maryland high school last week, encouraging students to participate in people-to-people exchanges with their peers in the Soviet Union.
“I proposed to [General Secretary Mikhail] Gorbachev that we let young people from each country spend time in the other’s schools, universities, summer camps, and homes,” the President told students at Fallston High School in Fallston, Md., at a special assembly. “We’ll establish scholarship funds to make it possible for the best and the brightest of both countries to take part in these exchanges. I want all of you, throughout America, to have a chance to meet and get to know your counterparts in the Soviet Union.”
“That’s one reason I am here today--to encourage young people4like you from across the country to take part in these people-to-people exchanges as never before in our history,” the President said.
But Thomas Switzer, a State Department spokesman, said last week that “high-school exchanges are not formally a part” of the U.S.-Soviet cultural-exchange program that was announced at the Geneva talks. He added, however, that “we hope exchanges at the high-school level, as well as at the elementary and university level, will grow out of the overall Geneva agreements.”
Details of the exchange have not yet been worked out, he said. “What is happening now is a digestion process from the summit,” he added.
President Reagan was first invited to visit the high school last November, according to Frank Stultz, principal of the school. The White House turned down the offer, but called back this past October to see if the invitation was still open.
About 850 of the school’s 1,400 students attended the assembly at which the President spoke; another 40 or so participated in a classroom discussion with him, and the rest were allowed to watch him leave on his helicopter, Mr. Stultz said.
The students who took part in the classroom discussion did not limit their questions to the Geneva summit. They grilled the President on a broad range of current issues, including terrorism, steel quotas, and the failure of the Sergeant York tank-mounted anti-aircraft weapon (known as divad).
When asked about his first impression of Mr. Gorbachev, the President said he saw him as a “very intelligent man,” who in his “heart and soul” believes “in the system that he’s grown up in."--at
A version of this article appeared in the December 11, 1985 edition of Education Week as U.S.-Soviet Student Exchanges Urged