First of all, let me say that I and Senator Muriel Humphrey, John Reinhardt, and others are very delighted to have you here this afternoon for what I believe is the initiation of a very precious and valuable new program for our own country.
It's completely appropriate that the program should have been conceived and named because of and after Senator Hubert Humphrey. He always exemplified what this program is supposed to accomplish, that is, a deep belief in the human spirit, the value of human progress, hope in the face of at least partial discouragement and sometimes even despair, the breaking down of barriers that exist between people because of difference in heritage or race or country of origin or formal opportunity of their families.
Senator Humphrey also believed that the crucial element in the growth of a person was in education, formal education, of course, but the stretching of one's mind and heart in every conceivable way. I think we all realize that to the limit of his great ability, he strove for better international understanding, for peace, for the end of wars and the prevention of war.
I believe that our country has a great deal to offer that has not yet been accepted by people from other nations. I've said on many occasions that in years gone by I always dreaded seeing the United Nations General Assembly convene, because our country was the target of every attack and the butt of every joke from 100 nations on Earth. And it was very embarrassing to me and to all Americans who observed this annual affair.
That has changed. I believe there's a new willingness, in some cases eagerness for the leaders and the ordinary citizens of other nations now to not only learn more about the United States but also to have a closer political, social, cultural relationship with us.
This is a fairly modest program, but it can have a profound impact. And I think it will help a great deal to alleviate the ignorance of other people toward us or about us. Senator Humphrey said that if freedom cannot live with ignorance, then between the two the choice is very clear. And we are trying to alleviate that, whether someone is highly educated but still doesn't understand our country and, therefore, is ignorant about us, or because someone is deprived and very narrow in their opportunities and don't know much about us.
But I think this program will be an avenue toward a greatly magnified opportunity for the enhancement of better relationships. It will mean a lot to a President. We'll have about 250 highly motivated, extremely competent, deserving young people coming from nations all over the Earth, particularly in the Third World, the developing nations, to our country at the graduate level, already being well conversant, through formal education and experience, with their own nations, to come here to learn about ours.
As many of you undoubtedly know, the originator for the concept of the Peace Corps was Hubert Humphrey. And that was a program to send hundreds of young and old Americans to foreign countries to serve and to learn and to take our culture there for examination in the personality of the Peace Corps volunteer.
This is kind of a Peace Corps in reverse; highly motivated, fortunate young people will come to our Nation to serve their countries, to help serve us, and to learn about us. And, of course, we in the process will learn about them.
These scholarships will be eagerly sought. The competition will be high. The value to our country will be great, and if the program works well, the value to the students' countries will be much greater.
We want to make it work and work well. And when the first group comes to our Nation next year, John, I would like-although I haven't talked to you about this—I would like to have them come by in a group and meet with me and to get some acquaintance not only with the President of the United States but with our Government, our Capital City for just a few hours or perhaps a day or two. And then I understand at the end of our program they will go to the Hubert Humphrey Institute in Minnesota to get an encapsulation of what they can do in political motivation when they return back home.
This is not designed to do anything but serve others. And I think the relatively low costs will be greatly magnified. Rabbi Hillel said that one candle can light a thousand others and not diminish itself. And that's what we hope to accomplish in this program; each focal point of high education, knowledge about our Nation, competence, leadership in the persons of the students involved will go back to their own nations and greatly expand their own influence and, directly and indirectly, the beneficial influence of our own country. And in the process our Nation certainly will not be diminished in the process.
Let me thank you, again, for being willing to come here. The program will be described to you in some detail later on. You'll get a briefing on the East-West relationships and the North-South relationships that presently exist between our country and others. You'll be able not only to learn about the embryonic program but also, hopefully, to give advice, counsel, and constructive criticisms. I think that as we evolve the final arrangements for the program, your voices will be very valuable to us all. Your institutions are great in themselves. I hope this program will add to their greatness.
Thank you, again, for letting me participate. I know Hubert Humphrey, a great man, a great American, would be proud if he knew about what is going on today, and my belief is that he knows.
Thank you very much.