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Madison families host Central American youth ambassadors

MADISON – Twenty-seven high school students from Belize, El Salvador and Honduras visited Madison homes and area attractions with the U.S. Central America Youth Ambassadors program.

Personnel with Global Ties Alabama, formerly International Services Council of Alabama, coordinated the youth’s fact-finding experience on March 14-20, executive director Jacqui Shipe said.

“Global Ties Alabama inherited 2013-2014 contracts originally won by the University of Alabama in Huntsville and in 2015 became a grantee of Georgetown University and U.S. Department of State,” Shipe said. Global Ties Alabama received the endorsement “because of its stellar track record in hosting international exchange programs including youth programs under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State.”

Host families in Madison were David Lee and Olga Osadcii, Gloria Vergara, Deb Adelsperger and John and Ona Hamilton

The youth surveyed the American culture, business principles and education. “The Youth Ambassadors program not only provides participants with knowledge and unmatched experience but also prepares them for a future with leadership and a solid commitment to civic engagement,” Shipe said.

The youth arrived in Birmingham and toured the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute before travelling to Madison County. They visited Alabama Constitution Village, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and had lunch with Rey Almodovar, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville and Madison. They met Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle.

The young ambassadors visited the Academy of Science and Foreign Language and participated in conflict resolution training with Dr. Janice Watson at Oakwood University. Antonio Montoya, founder of Rocket Hatch, explained startup techniques that Silicon Valley businesses use.

Host families took the teenagers to Lake Guntersville, a hockey game, Bridge Street Town Centre and other shopping centers, bowling, a movie and the Richard Showers Recreation Center to play basketball. They also attended a workshop with Elizabeth Garcia, President and CEO of Northern Alabama Better Business Bureau.

Youth from 15 to 18 years old with solid leadership characteristics and an entrepreneurial spirit can enter the Youth Ambassadors program.

For more information, visit iscalabama.org.

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