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UVA Hosts Foreign Diplomats to Discuss Democracy

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The University of Virginia hopes that its Jeffersonian principles will be an inspiration to budding democracies around the world. The school is hosting a collection of diplomats and political scientists this week, showcasing that Virginia's presidential heritage is influential, even in the modern world.

Tuesday kicked off the pilot program to what's being called the "Presidential Precinct."

It's an effort to build on ideas about freedom and human rights in the United States much like the ones Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe stood for.

Representatives from 35 countries attended Monday's event to learn more about American democracy and how to incorporate those principles into their own societies.

Nigeria and Afghanistan were two of the countries involved in this conversation. One representative from Nigeria says he has benefited greatly from the dialogue.   

"We're passionate about development. We want to see our country change. Government comes and goes, but civil society continues and that's the role why we're here. We're here to learn to get better experience and better exposure to understand the dynamics of how things work," said Dayo Israel of Nigeria.

The Department of Global Affairs at UVA says this is also a way to learn about how American democracy can improve by looking at the challenges of others.

"And by doing this, it's a place that we can perhaps generate help and dialogue with countries that are today going to those same transitions toward democracy as a way to help them with their problems and for us to learn from their own development," said Vice President for Global Affairs Jeff Legro.

Upon their return home, the representatives will interact in working groups. The Presidential Precinct is part of a partnership with William and Mary, and continues through Wednesday.

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