UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met his "American mom" as an exchange student

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met his "American mom" as an exchange student

In 1962, current United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon traveled to California as part of the first American Red Cross-sponsored Visit of International Students to America (VISTA) program. Ban Ki-moon lived with Libba Patterson and her family in their Novato, California home for 8 days. During those 8 days, he formed a lifelong friendship with Libba. On the 50-year anniversary of his visit, Ban stated, “I was so inspired I went on to spend my life in public service, first as a Korean diplomat and now for the UN."
 
 
In August of 1962, 112 youth delegates from 42 countries traveled in 11 separate groups throughout the United States as participants of a Red Cross program called Operation VISTA (Visit of International Students to America). They lived with host families, attended workshops, and participated in volunteer activities. Their visit culminated in trips to New York City for a visit to the UN and Washington, D.C. for a meeting with President John F. Kennedy at the White House. One of the many notable participants in the Operation VISTA program was current UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who credits the program with inspiring his diplomatic career.