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The North Wind

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

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Visiting students learn leadership skills

Marquette and the NMU International Programs Office is playing host to Central American students as part of the Youth Ambassadors Program from Tuesday, Jan. 24 to Monday, Jan. 30.

The students, ranging from age 15-18, traveled from nearly every Central American country to the United States to learn about entrepreneurship, leadership and community service.

The Youth Ambassadors Program, funded by the U.S. Department of State, is administered by the Center for Intercultural Education and Development at Georgetown University.

“Every visit we do to businesses, every talk they hear, everything they see, I hope they take just an idea—something that they can duplicate in their countries,” said Analisa Algandona, program coordinator at Georgetown.

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The students are scheduled for tours, lectures and activities that showcase entrepreneurship, leadership and community service.

For instance, the students will shadow American students at Marquette Senior High School, tour businesses in downtown Marquette, visit the U.P. Children’s Museum and participate in community service projects.

“The figure (of community service) is not well known in the countries in Central America, because they always expect something in return,” Algandona said. “Here, they’re learning you can go good without getting something back.”

The Central American Youth Ambassadors will volunteer at either St. Vincent de Paul, the YMCA or the Marquette County Animal Shelter.

The students who go to St. Vincent de Paul have the opportunity to do a little shopping after the community service portion of the day.

“There is a spectrum of youngsters and you can get into the idea that they’re all successful, therefore they are all capable to pay for everything,” said Jim Edwards, general programming and explainers director at the Children’s Museum. “Some of them aren’t.”

The visiting students stay with host families, often those of upper level high school Spanish students. The families are trained to use body language and facial expressions to help communicate with the students.

“I didn’t hear one unhappy thing about last night at their host families,” said Susan Morgan, coordinator of education abroad and exchange programs. “By the time they go, most of them are crying to see their student to leave.”

While language might pose a problem or learning experience for host families, the barrier is eased with the help of interpreter Mar Siller during presentations and tours. The students wear headphones to hear Siller’s translations.

There are four adult group leaders, also from Central America, who guide the students through discussions, activities and debriefing sessions.

While the students are doing their community service projects, the group leaders will speak to members of Northern’s Student Leader Fellowship Program.

The students started their trip in Washington D.C. then went to upstate New York. Northern is their last stop on their trip. They head home early Monday morning.

For more information about the Central American Youth Ambassadors, visit

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