Thursday, February 16, 2012

East Harlem Kids Head to Paris as Part of Cultural Exchange

East Harlem Kids Head to Paris as Part of Cultural Exchange

February 15, 2012 4:25pm | By Jeff Mays, DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

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Eight teens from Harlem RBI will spend 10 days in Paris, France as part of a cultural exchange. (DNAinfo/Jeff Mays)

HARLEM — Some of the kids had never been out of the country and others had never stepped foot on an airplane. All of that changed Tuesday night for eight teens from East Harlem as they boarded a van to Kennedy International Airport that would connect them to a flight to Paris, France.

"I want to travel the world when I grow up, so this is a stepping stone," said Sebastian Segura, 16.

The kids from Harlem RBI— an East Harlem nonprofit youth development agency that runs activities like baseball clinics and educational programs to help inner-city youth— are going to connect with their peers at Sport dans la Ville, France's largest non-profit sports organization that also works with kids from difficult neighborhoods.

During their 10-day trip, the kids will participate in community service projects, experience the culture and teach their French peers about softball and baseball. The kids in turn will travel to the French Alps where they will learn to ski.

For Madison Lopez, 15, it will be her first trip out of the country.

"I didn't have that much emotion at first about the trip but now I'm realizing this is a once in a lifetime chance," Lopez said as she prepared to board the van. "I want to go and explore."

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