Our First Kansas Youth Ambassadors to Paraguay!

Lawrence High School, Topeka High School,  Peabody-Burns Community High School and the Kansas Paraguay Partners are very proud to announce that Meredith Burke,  Ciera Cathey, Joshua Klarmann, , Morgan Manger  and  Nicolas Williams have been selected to be Kansas Youth Ambassadors to Paraguay this summer.   Sidney Westervelt  was selected as an alternate.

Students from across Kansas submitted applications in English and Spanish, for the five Youth Ambassador positions in 2010.  This is the first year that the Youth Ambassadors program will be a reciprocal exchange, giving U.S. youth the exciting opportunity to travel to Latin America and be immersed in the culture, experience the daily life of a Latin American youth and learn about leadership and volunteer service in another country.   The students  were selected to represent Kansas, and the United States, based on the following criteria:  their community service,   communicative abilities in Spanish, and their high academic standing.

All five  students will be traveling with an adult chaperone on an  all-expenses paid trip from June 20th to July 17th, 2010.  They will be spending a few days in Washington, D.C. for a U.S. State Department orientation before traveling to Paraguay where they will stay with host families.  Upon return to Kansas, the Youth Ambassadors will be expected to do service projects in their schools and communities.

In the photo above:  Lawrence High School Students Meredith Burke and Morgan Manger.

In the photo to the left:  Peabody-Burns High School students  Joshua Klarmann

In the photo below:  Topeka High School students Ciera Cathey and Nico Williams.


Cultural Connection

Paraguayan students learn about U.S. through extended stay in Lawrence

Alheli Aranda, of Paraguay, performs a song in Spanish for Lawrence High School students during a fiesta to welcome exchange students from Paraguay. Ten Paraguayans are visiting Lawrence from the Kansas Paraguay Partners program.

Alheli Aranda, of Paraguay, performs a song in Spanish for Lawrence High School students during a fiesta to welcome exchange students from Paraguay. Ten Paraguayans are visiting Lawrence from the Kansas Paraguay Partners program.

Lawrence Journal-World Newspaper
By Terry Rombeck
February 12, 2008

Jazmin Larroza, left, of Paraguay, and Lawrence High School principal Steve Nilhas chat during a fiesta welcoming exchange students at LHS. The students arrived in the U.S. on Feb. 1 and visited Washington, D.C. They arrived in Lawrence Feb. 5 and will stay through Friday.

Alheli Aranda, left, of Paraguay, listens to junior Adrian Peña’s iPod during a fiesta welcoming exchange students at Lawrence High School. Ten exchange students from Paraguay are visiting Lawrence from the Kansas Paraguay Partners program. At the bottom is junior Gage Snow.

Paraguay Partners
Sometimes, it turns out, movies aren’t the most accurate reflection of real life.

Dalma González, of Paraguay, is finding that out this month as she spends time with high school students in Lawrence.

“In the movies, everything is party, party, party, party,” González says. “But they are studious.”

González is in the United States as part of the Kansas Paraguay Partners program. Ten Paraguayan students — five at Lawrence High School, five at Free State High School — arrived in Lawrence Feb. 5 and will stay with host families through Friday.

This is the second consecutive year Lawrence has hosted students from Paraguay.

Kansas Paraguay Partners is an arm of Partners of the Americas, which is sponsored by the U.S. State Department. It aims to connect Americans with people in Latin America and the Caribbean, with an emphasis on promoting community service.

The 10 students and three sponsors arrived in the United States Feb. 1 and spent three days in Washington, D.C., touring museums and meeting with government officials.

Their time in Lawrence will include attending classes and touring the state Capitol.

Arla Jones, the LHS librarian who is coordinating the visit, says Paraguay is a perfect match for Kansas, considering its economy is agriculturally based, it’s landlocked and has little tourism.

“The idea is for them to share things about their country,” Jones says. “They know so much about the U.S.”

The Paraguyan students were selected from among 350 applicants. Each of the students is involved in community service activities in Paraguay, and Partners of the Americas wants to encourage that service.

“It’s a huge opportunity,” student Nathalia González says of coming to the United States. “But it’s a big responsibility, too.”

Dalma González says she’s wanted to come to the United States much of her life.

“It’s the typical American dream,” she says. “We are so into the American culture — the Internet, books, movie.”

Silvana Riveros says she grew up loving American music in particular, especially bands Guns N’ Roses, Aerosmith and Nirvana.

“These groups are my favorite ones,” she says. “The only part I don’t like is the hip-hop.”

Her host sister, LHS junior Parendi Birdie, adds: “She knows a lot of pop culture that I don’t even know.”

It’s not just pop culture that the Paraguayans follow. They follow presidential politics closely, and they say many in Paraguay are big fans of Barack Obama in his presidential bid.

Erwin Bogado, a Paraguyan teacher who is a sponsor on the trip, says the students selected for the free trip often can’t afford to study abroad on their own.

“These kids are really smart kids,” he says. “They come from middle-class families, so this means a lot to them.”

Thirza Klassen, another student, says she’s just glad to learn first-hand about real people in the United States — not just those she sees on TV.

“It’s important,” she says, “because when you hear about another culture, you think about the differences. This way, you can really learn about another culture. We are making friendships with families.”

About the country

Population: Around 6.7 million people.

Size: 406,750 square kilometers, slightly smaller than California.

Official languages: Spanish and Guarani

Government type: Constitutional republic

Capital: Asunción

Agricultural importance: 45 percent of the country’s workforce are employed in agriculture.

Major industries: Sugar, cement, textiles, beverages, wood products, steel, metallurgic, electric power.

Major exports: Soybeans, feed, cotton, meat, edible oils, electricity, wood and leather.

Currency: Guarani (5,094 per $1 U.S.)

Source: CIA World Factbook

Lawrence High School Newsletter

LHS Principal, Steve Nilhas, dedicated the cover of the school’s newsletter to the KPP High School Exchange Program.  You can view his letter to the 1,350 students and their parents here:

LHS Newsletter (pdf file)

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