In February, Utah welcomed International Visitors from Central and South America and the Caribbean where they were studying how the U.S. addressed the needs of underserved and at-risk youth. Having just visited Washington D.C. and Chicago, the change of scenery in Utah was captivating for the Visitors. Most of the group had never seen snow until their visit to Utah, so it was a dream come true. The visit to Park City was as if it was made for them. There was a snowfall for about one hour, and then the sun came out. They were also able to visit the Olympic Park and have a snowball activity.
The Visitors admired the professional program they experienced in Utah, as the organizations presented information that was beyond their expectations. They were especially impressed with their visit to the Utah State Courts where they had a brief presentation, and then observe hearings. Judge Kimberly Hornack was attentive and informative. She explained in detail what they had seen. They were pleased to see that the families were all able to participate. This experience provided a well-rounded knowledge of how the U.S. judicial system functions.
They were impressed with the Prevention Dimension program at the Utah State Office of Education. This program uses popular songs with positive messages to help retain positive behavior in adolescents as they often remember lyrics. And their visit to Rose Park Elementary and Community School was impactful. Mr. Joel Arvizo, the principal, explained the uniqueness of his school. Most students are immigrants, and as a supportive service to the family, they offer a health clinic, family counseling, adult evening classes, and other comprehensive support.
Their visit in Utah also included the Utah College of Applied Technology that offers short and long-term studies that provided careers in health, technology, cosmetology, automobile mechanics and other fields; They visited the Center for Women and Children at the YWCA and the Volunteers of America Utah Homeless Youth Resource Center. Mr. Pedro Balderrama from Mexico commented that he would try to build a center for homeless youth in his city.
They finished their visit in Utah with a volunteer activity at St. Vincent de Paul Dining Hall. The Visitors experienced firsthand the need to help others. They arrived in the U.S. with the idea that homelessness was not an issue in our country, but that evening they fed more than 5,6000 individuals facing homelessness.
As for the cultural exchange, the Visitors experienced an NBA Basketball game with the Utah Jazz playing the Portland Trail Blazers. Additionally, participants were very excited to visit the Mormon Temple. They toured temple square and attended a service where the famous Tabernacle Choir performed. It was a breathtaking experience and unforgettable because it was on President’s Day and the songs were that of American theme.