By Dave Ongie
Ten students from Colombia and Venezuela are spending two weeks in our area as a part of the Youth Ambassadors Program.
The students, who were selected to participate in the program because of their academic achievements and their willingness to take on service projects, started their trip in Washington D.C. before coming to Johnson City at the beginning of last week. Charles Carter, the program coordinator for the Youth Ambassadors Program at Science Hill, said the exchange students have had a busy schedule during their time in Northeast Tennessee.
They shadowed their host students at Science Hill before embarking on a week of sightseeing that included stops at Bristol Motor Speedway, Bays Mountain, the Gray Fossil Site and Dollywood. While in Gray, the students were treated to a tour of the museum and also had a chance to watch paleontologists extract fossils from the dig site. Last week’s tour also featured trips to Downtown Jonesborough, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, Bristol Caverns and Bays Mountain.
During the stop at the Gray Fossil Site, Carlos Gonzalez, a mentor traveling with the students from Venezuela, said the trip has been very educational to the students.
“We can see what America really is,” Gonzalez said. “The contrast is what they’ve seen. They’ve all been saying, ‘I love Washington D.C., but I love Tennessee even more.’
“We’ve met amazing people and all of them have been really kind to us. That’s one of the things they’ve been telling me – American people are amazing, they are kind, friendly, and I think they’re getting a different image of what they thought America might be.”
This week has been dedicated to service as the students have had the opportunity to volunteer at various sites around the area.