Five Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School students will be traveling to El Salvador this summer as part of a U.S. State Department exchange program.

Sarah Felix, Nina Harris, Danielle Hopkins, Sarah Thomas and Lucy Ulyatt, along with high school Spanish teacher Cindy West, will participate in the American Youth Leadership Program, which is sponsored by the state department. Through the program, American high school students and adult mentors get first-hand knowledge of foreign cultures and study globally significant issues. The programs include home-stays, language lessons and leadership training.

The Vineyard students and Ms. West are part of a group of 18 Massachusetts high school students, three mentors, and an Institute for Training and Development program director that will travel to El Salvador for three weeks this summer. The students will learn about life in El Salvador and study challenges to food security and good nutrition. The program includes meeting with academics, agricultural experts, small farmers, community leaders and others. Students will also have facilitated discussions with Salvadoran student peers.

U.S. and Salvadoran students will develop small projects that can be applied in their own communities and schools. The collaboration between the students will continue after the exchange with the help of social media and virtual technology.

The U.S. Embassy in El Salvador is involved with planning for the program and has ensured site visits and travel routes are safe. The students will formally visit the U.S. Embassy while they are in El Salvador.

All of the program participants met on the Vineyard in early May for a team building weekend, which included a ropes course facilitated by Major Bob Ogden of the Dukes County Sheriff’s Department.