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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Highlands Spanish Student Earns Spot in US Cultural Exchange Program



Highlands Spanish teacher with her student Hailey Moore preparing for the exchange trip to Chile.

Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor

Highlands High School Junior Hailey Moore will travel to Chile this summer for a three-week language immersion program known as Youth Ambassadors. The program, offered through the US Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, selects 120 students each year to travel to six countries in the Caribbean and South America for a fully funded opportunity.

The Youth Ambassadors Program is a leadership development foreign exchange program designed as a learning experience for US high school students and to promote cultural awareness and understanding.

Moore took AP Spanish last year, and this year she is in the AP Spanish Literature class, the highest level of Spanish offered at Highlands. Her Spanish teacher Emily Haffey had been looking for opportunities for Moore to continue with Spanish studies when she learned about the Bureau of Education program.


"With Hailey being a junior and already in the AP Spanish Literature class this year, I wanted to send her out of the country to use the Spanish that she’s learned. So, I saw this opportunity and knew she was interested in doing something over the summer to boost her resume a little bit. So, I sent it to her, she applied and she won," Haffey explained.

Leadership and service learning are part of the program


Eighteen students from across the country, along with two adult mentors, were selected for the Argentina and Chile program. Half the students will stay with host families in Chile and half will stay with families in Argentina.

"While we are there, we will be staying with a host family for about 8 or 9 days and in that time we will be speaking at public schools, private schools, working with nonprofit organizations and volunteering and speaking at businesses and participating in different leadership workshops, things to immerse ourselves in the culture there," Moore said.

The trip starts in Florida in June where students will attend an orientation along with another group who will be traveling to Brazil. From there they will go to Santiago, Chile, for in-country orientation and a time to bond with their fellow participants. The students will then travel to their host families and communities and will reconvene in Argentina to present on what they learned.

A requirement of the program is for students to perform a service learning project upon returning. This part of the program fit right into Moore’s interests in promoting Spanish language and culture in Fort Thomas schools. 

Sharing the experience with younger students


The fact that Johnson Elementary School students will be on the Highlands campus next fall offered her a unique opportunity to plan a project that will benefit younger students as well as her classmates and community.

Fort Thomas elementary school students participate in one Spanish language class per week, but she wanted to expose the younger students to more.

"Growing up I went to a bilingual school [in California], and I lived in a very diverse community. It taught me a lot about how to interact with people...Moving here at the beginning of my sophomore year, I noticed there really wasn’t that much so I wanted a service learning project to try and bring more Spanish and more culture to the younger kids so they could have the opportunities learning Spanish that I did," said Moore.

Haffey, who is chair of Highlands’ World Language Department, is working with Johnson’s Spanish teacher to plan the project with Moore.

In addition to one Spanish language class per week in elementary school, Fort Thomas students have the opportunity to take an exploratory Spanish class in sixth grade for one quarter and they take an exploratory German class for a quarter in seventh grade. Starting in eighth grade, students have the option of starting either Spanish or German but most start in their freshman year, said Haffey.

Moore said she plans to go to law school and become a lawyer either in the area of immigration or criminal justice, and plans to either minor or major in Spanish.


She is looking forward to the trip. "It will be fun to meet people with different perspectives from different parts of the United States and also to meet people from Chile. I’ve never been out of the country. I’ll be able to use the Spanish I’ve learned and learn new things," she said.

Moore took a unit in class last year on Chile, and said she is eager to compare what she has learned with her new experiences inside the country.
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