Nine college students and their chaperone from the Republic of Armenia are spending the week of June 25 through July 3 with host families in the Willamette Valley, including in Philomath.

The students are participating in the American Leadership Experience program, run by the U.S. Department of State, which brings students from throughout the world to the United States for a cultural experience.

The students first spend a week in Washington D.C. as guests of the State Department and then are placed in host families for a personal cultural experience.

The Armenians will be staying with host families in Albany, Corvallis, Philomath, Dallas and Salem who are members of the Friendship Force of Oregon’s Mid-Willamette Valley club. Friendship Force clubs throughout the country are participating in this program because of their long experience in hosting and being guests in many U.S. states and other countries in the world. The Mid-Willamette Valley club is celebrating its 30-year anniversary this year.

The planned week includes attending the World Beat International Festival at the Riverfront Park in Salem where they will have an Armenian booth; participate in a Parade of Nations and enjoy international foods and dancing; spend a day at Oregon State University, where they will tour the campus and bookstore, see OSU dorm rooms, possibly visit a class in session; tour the Oak Creek Horticulture center and go bowling at the Memorial Union bowling alley; visit the Grande Ronde Native American reservation and the Chachalu Museum and Cultural Center.

Since Armenia is a land-locked country, they will see the Oregon Coast at the Yaquina Head Natural Area Park and possibly a private tour of the lighthouse. They will have the opportunity to walk on the beach and attend an educational session at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. They will also hike up the Cape Perpetua, visit Seal Rock and walk the Newport Bay Front.

On another day the students will be given a private tour of Nike Headquarters in Beaverton, then have an opportunity for shopping. At the end of the day, they will experience all-American picnic at Avery Park in Corvallis.

Other activities include a tour and lunch at Gathering Together Farms in Philomath, learning about environmental reforestation at Starker Forest and ending with attendance at a Corvallis Knights baseball game at Goss Stadium.

The final day will begin with the Lions Club Lumberjack Breakfast in Albany and participate in trail clearing in Lebanon led by Rod Sell, a leader of Build Lebanon Trails. Finally, their week ends with a pizza party at James Gang in Lebanon.

The students will return to their host homes for packing and farewells, then shuttle to the Portland Airport for their flight home.