March 28, 2013
Monticello High School hosted 24 South American students part of the Youth Ambassador Program through the UVa Center for Politics and the State Department.
After touring the University of Virginia, talking about politics with Professor Larry Sabato and singing karaoke on the corner they spent a full day at Monticello High School to see what school is like in America.
"It's like being in a movie, because I imagine this but I couldn't believe it and now I'm here and I see that it's truly real," said 16-year-old Rocio Iuricnic, a Youth Ambassador from Argentina.
Rocio and 23 other South American high school students are representing their country as Youth Ambassadors as they travel our country to absorb the culture.
"I have met so many people and so many ways to live," said 16-year-old Benjamin Iniguez, a Youth Ambassador from Chile.
"Some things are here that are not in Chile and some things are in Chile that are not here, so it's really really cool to have new experiences so you can compare both countries."
This is the third group to come to Monticello High School and each year there seems to be a pattern.
"It just shows that we're all the same. You see teenagers from South America and you see our teenagers and there's really not much difference," said Gloria Rockhold, Community Engagement Manager for Albemarle County Public Schools. "The educational issues are different or where they go to school or whatever but they just find a lot of common ground."
After the formal tour was over the students took to the auditorium stage to dance to songs like the 'Cha-cha Slide' and 'Harlem Shake' as well as some salsa.
Iniguez says the experience has truly changed him and means so much to be part of the program.
The Youth Ambassadors will now split up and go to Dallas, Texas or Kansas City, Missouri to spend a week with host families to get a full experience of American life which they say will definitely test their English skills. Then they will go to Washington D.C. to tour the nations capital.