NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The American Exchange Project gives students the opportunity to learn about America from the people and places in it.

“Your world is like this until you get out of it and suddenly it expands,” said David McCullough III, American Exchange Project, CEO.

The project strives to break from the norm and give students the opportunity to see a side of American life they have never seen before.

The idea behind this non-profit was born in New Haven, Connecticut when now CEO David McCullough III was in undergraduate school at Yale University. “I wrote for the school newspaper and I was writing a story about Wilbur Cross High School and I was interviewing a teacher, she had been there for a long time and in the middle of our interview one day, she broke down in tears and said David nobody listens.”

It was that moment David was inspired to open up America’s ears and bring together what he calls a divided country through graduating high school seniors.

“Lack of connections and trust and faith in one-another that kind of binds together our society and AEP is trying to rebuild that.”

This summer alone, 140 students from 24 different states, including Connecticut will be going on exchanges all to “help Americans from different regions and backgrounds become friends.”

The whole idea is to get to know one another, connect and understand “what life is like on the other side. Fifty-four percent of young Americans have never seen a cow.”

Some of these students will see a cow, ride on subways, planes and trains all for the first time and all for free with the idea of becoming more cultured and understanding.

“It’s the old Atticus Finch line, you can’t really know enough about another person unless you walk a mile in their shoes.”

To learn more about AEP, visit

Pictures and videos for this story were provided by McCullough.