Borough girl chosen as student ambassador

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St. Francis-St. Hedwig School eighth-grader Jessica Sanchez, of Naugatuck, poses for a picture during a trip to Ecuador. Sanchez has been chosen to take part in the People to People’s Student Ambassador Program.-CONTRIBUTED

NAUGATUCK — A young Naugatuck resident will represent the nation and the borough in Europe next summer.

Twelve-year-old Jessica Sanchez, an eighth-grader at St. Francis-St. Hedwig School, has been chosen to be part of People to People’s Student Ambassador Program.

The program is scheduled for next July and will last 19 days. Jessica will visit France, England, Ireland, and Wales as a student ambassador of America.

She was nominated to be a student ambassador by Valerie Petrillo, her eighth-grade teacher.

“I absolutely love my school. I’ve always wanted to represent my school and, after this Student Ambassador Program accepted me my principal came up to me and said, ‘Next time people go to look at that Student Ambassador Program, my school could finally be on the list,’” Jessica said.

Albert Sanchez, Jessica’s father, feels that her good academic standing helped with her acceptance into the program.

“Jessie’s been on high honors in school ever since first grade, so that’s one of the reasons the teacher nominated her,” Albert said.

While in England, student ambassadors will have a chance to meet with members of Britain’s Parliament.

Jessica said that, although she is not nervous about meeting members of Parliament now, she imagines she will be when the day arrives.

“I think once it comes to the moment, maybe I will be shaking a little bit, because it is the parliament of Britain and it is not your country. It is a little scary because it’s a different country and you’re meeting the parliament,” Jessica said.

Judith Sanchez, Jessica’s mother, felt that this trip would present Jessica with more opportunities than if she were to travel to Europe as a tourist.

“She’ll have access to certain things that we, as normal tourists, wouldn’t,” Judith said.

This is not the first time that Jessica will be out of the country. She has traveled to Hong Kong, Japan, and France with her parents. In 2009 she traveled to Ecuador, her parents’ native country.

Jessica said she loves traveling and being exposed to new cultures.

“It’s impressive how, in the United States, we live in a different culture, do different things, and, if you go to China, you see very different things than you see here, and it’s amazing. I just want to explore and see the different cultures, how they live, the places they live, their clothing, everything,” Jessica said.

Jessica, who is fluent in both English and Spanish and learning to speak Portuguese, said she’s looking forward to hearing people speak French.

Jessica’s study of language and culture may help her achieve her future dreams.

“My dream, ever since I was little, was always to be a lawyer and that, one day, if I have a chance, I can become a candidate for senate and win, so I can become the first Spanish senator for Connecticut,” Jessica said.

She said she would also like to run for mayor of Naugatuck when she gets older.

For now, she’s focused on her trip.

“I would hope to say that I got on the plane by myself, and I went all the way overseas without my mom and dad, and I really did grow up,” Jessica said.