Acting as ambassador

Published 3:16 pm Thursday, October 9, 2008

It’s difficult to tell whether 13-year-old Jonathan Hostettler or his mother Carol was more excited to learn that he would be going to Australia next summer as a People To People International Student Ambassador.

“He will be representing his school and his country,” Carol said. “He can earn credits for high school and college, and possibly a scholarship.”

This is a great accomplishment for the Chelsea Middle School seventh-grader, his mother added, because he has had so much to overcome to reach this point. Besides losing his father at the age of five, a hearing problem has affected his speech and his studies.

Despite these difficulties, Jonathan is now out of special education and at grade level.

“He’s well-disciplined about getting things done,” she said. “But I had to push him a lot when he was younger. And it was really heartbreaking to see my five- and six-year-old cry about having to work so hard to learn.

“That’s why I am in education now,” the Chelsea teacher said, “because I want to help kids learn.”

As the sibling of a Student Ambassador, Jonathan’s nine-year-old sister Anna Marie, will be eligible to become a part of the program next year.

People To People International was founded by President Dwight D. Eisenhower as a mission of peace between ordinary citizens of different nations. Eight U.S. presidents have served as honorary chairman since the organization’s founding.

Jonathan nor his mother know which of his teachers nominated him for the program, they said. They learned about his nomination through letters from Governor Riley and People To People.

Businesses and individuals wishing to donate money to help Jonathon with fundraising may reach the family through Shelba Nivens’ e-mail address. Further information may be found on the program’s Web site,

Shelba Niven can be reached by e-mail at