Eisenhower puts people first

By Maggie Lu, Shanghai Star. 2002-04-04
Mary Eisenhower

DURING a recent interview with Mary Eisenhower, the granddaughter of former US President and five-star general Dwight Eisenhower, a strange coincidence came to light - it was the very hour of the 33rd anniversary of his death.

"Actually I know him as three people - a grandfather, the person we studied in school and the founder of People To People International (PTP)," she said. "As a person, he was multifaceted and as a grandfather, he was the best. He was passionate about all people."

Mary Eisenhower is visiting Shanghai and other cities in China as CEO of PTP, which was founded by her grandfather in 1956 to talk with the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries for further co-operative programmes.

The organization is a non-profit, cultural and educational exchange organization dedicated to advancing international understanding and friendship through the exchange of ideas and experiences directly among the world's peoples.

Mary first began acting as a volunteer in the organization in 1996, and then later took her grandfather's former position of CEO, after withdrawing from her position with an engineering firm. Mary has derived great enjoyment from this work promoting mutual exchanges of global peoples.

"How I joined the PTP is an interesting story," she said.

Her sister was once CEO of the organization and once upon a time was scheduled to make a speech at a conference for worldwide members of the organization. However, she couldn't attend the conference and asked Mary to take her place.

Mary became passionate about the work after the conference.

So far PTP has about 3,500 volunteers around the world. Although no chapter has been set up in Chinese mainland, the organization sent 6,000 delegates to China last year.

Currently two projects started by PTP are underway in China - seminars about the World Trade Organization and market economy and a study in breast cancer.

All the funds came from private donations.

A very special person accompanied the delegation this time, a former US ambassador, Julian Niemczyk, who was in Shanghai during World War II and former CEO of PTP. He has been with the organization for 29 years.

He still has the menu from the Cathy Hotels in Shanghai where he stayed in the 1940s. He showed what he cherished for years to Shanghai Star on Friday.

"All the buildings have risen 10 or 20 floors higher than the ones in the 1940s. I wish I could stay in this beautiful city longer this time, the second visit to the city after about half a century," he said. "Now PTP hopes to be able to explore and develop more opportunities in China with exchanges and projects."

Copyright by Shanghai Star.