New PHCC program helping Ecuadorian students prepare for college

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HENRY COUNTY (WSLS) - Ten Ecuadorian students, most of whom are in high school, are getting a three-week crash course in English.

It's all a part of Patrick Henry Community College's partnership with the Ecuadorian program Soccer College Showcase, which gives students in Ecuador an opportunity to come and learn English at colleges and universities in the U.S. and practice their soccer skills with collegiate athletes.

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"[It] has been a tremendous experience; very fabulous," said high schooler Peter Villao.

The purpose of the program is to prepare the students to take an English proficiency test when they return to Ecuador so they can potentially go on to college in the United States after high school. They have to pass the test in order to be eligible to apply to colleges and universities because they are non-native English speakers.

"I'm planning to come over here and study over here in the United States," Villao said. "More opportunities, more quality of life."

Carlos Swandon, like Villao, is participating the program for the opportunity to get an education in the United States. "In my country, Ecuador, we have very limited opportunities," Swandon emphasized. "So, in USA we can study and learn English so in our lives we will have new experiences."

Patrick Henry's men's soccer coach, Edna Crehan, coordinates the program. He went through a similar program himself coming to the U.S. from Ireland.

Even if the students don't follow in his footsteps and return to the U.S. after high school, he believes the program will still have been successful.

"I think this has been a wonderful cultural experience for them and showed them that there's so much stuff out there," Crehan explained.

The students fly back to Ecuador next Monday.

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