The year 1950 marked the inception of the Mennonite Central Committee European Trainee Program, and in the first five years of its existence 123 young men and women between the ages of 18 and 25 were brought into the United States for a one-year training period. They came from Germany, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Japan. The program was officially approved by the Department of State, Washington, D.C., as a program for "practical training in industry, medicine, agriculture, or some other field of knowledge or skill" and in the specific interests of promoting better understanding between the peoples of the various countries represented and in the general interests of international exchange of knowledge and skills in these various fields. It was regarded as an important bridge-building project between the Mennonites of various lands, whereby they might strengthen each other and their faith.
Counselors located in each community assisted in locating suitable Mennonite sponsors for the placement of the trainees and stand by with counsel to the trainees or sponsor as needed during the training period. Each trainee was placed with two sponsors, for six months each, in entirely different communities, to gain the widest possible contact and experience both occupationally and in the Mennonite church and community life. A midyear conference of the trainees gave them opportunity to evaluate the program and experiences, exchange ideas, discuss problems, and draw challenge from God's Word.
The program was financed through monthly payments by the sponsors to cover ocean and inland transportation, medical expenses, and overhead. In addition to maintenance, each trainee received from his sponsor a nominal allowance as spending money.
The program evolved over the years; in 2008 the International Volunteer Exchange Program (IVEP) was a similar program less focused on agriculture.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 303. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
©1996-2013 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.
MLA style: Snyder, William T. "Farm Trainees." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 20 June 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/farm_trainees.
APA style: Snyder, William T. (1956). Farm Trainees. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 June 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/farm_trainees.