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Mount Vernon Student Serves Underprivileged Youths

Mount Vernon student Natorie Beckford participated in the Council on International Educational Exchange Leaderhip Academy program.
Mount Vernon student Natorie Beckford participated in the Council on International Educational Exchange Leaderhip Academy program. Photo Credit: Contributed

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Natorie Beckford, daughter of Natalya Johnson of Mount Vernon, completed the Council on International Educational Exchange Leadership Academy program last summer. She, a number of other U.S. students and a program leader traveled to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, where they lived with host families.

Beckford, a senior at Mount Vernon High School, and the others performed community service at La Piedra, a summer camp, where they served youths in some of the country’s most impoverished communities. The opportunity allowed the students to interact with fellow teens, learn the merengue and surfing and other activities of the locals, and visit the national library and aquarium.

“The Leadership Academy changed my life,” Beckford said. “I learned so much about Dominican culture and discovered parts of myself I didn’t know existed.”

CIEE, based in Portland, Maine, offers various High School Summer Abroad programs that help students experience service, along with other cultures and languages, including China, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan and Spain.

The organization’s mission statement is “to help people gain understanding, acquire knowledge and develop skills for living in a globally interdependent and culturally diverse world." For more information, visit the website at www.ciee.org/high-school-study-abroad .

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