Chilean students learn La. culture through Thibodaux school

February 4, 2018

THIBODAUX, La. (AP) — Six teenage students from Chile have been learning about Louisiana culture and cuisine through a new student exchange partnership between eLearning in Thibodaux and Sebastian School in Chillan, Chile.

This month, which is the students’ summer break, Mauricio Villarroel, Otshrit Sandoval, Rocío Uribe, Joan Tapia and Diego Mora have explored South Louisiana.

The six, accompanied by their professor Scotty Cox, a Houma native who now lives in Chile, visited New Orleans and even went on a swamp tour in Boutte to learn more about American culture and learn more English.

“Our school is an English-speaking school in Chile, and every year we have a group of students come to the states and they attend school as observers in a cultural and language interchange,” Cox said.

Rocío, 16, said said seeing an alligator was her favorite part of going on the swamp tour.

“I thought it was fake, but then it moved,” Rocío said.

Fifteen-year-old Mauricio said riding on the airboat, which he had never seen before, was his favorite.

The group’s favorite Louisiana dish was jambalaya, specifically the jambalaya Nancy Toups, the founder of eLearning, made them. However, a few of the students noted they don’t like the spicy foods of south Louisiana, which are different from the typical Chilean cuisine.

Sixteen-year-old, Otshrit, who goes by Ochi, and Mauricio said they were surprised by the openness of people’s yards without fences, as well as the space in people’s houses.

Overall, the kids said jumbo fountain soda drinks with unlimited refills will be what they miss the most about America.

Cox, who moved to Chile after he and his wife went on vacation there in the ’90s and decided to stay, said he told the students about the swamps, plantation homes and country life in south Louisiana before the trip.

?(In Louisiana), the people are very friendly and the families they’ve stayed with have been very generous in taking care of them, showing them around, making sure they’re comfortable and that they get the real Louisiana experience,” Cox said.

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