PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Marathon stars from Africa were the center of attention at Community Day School on Friday morning.

Three Ethiopians and a runner from Zambia answered questions, and then went outside to share stretching and running techniques with students.

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Sponsor Bill Staab says they depend on prize money to keep their visas.

“If they get one, they can stay here for so many years,” he explains. “They’re not allowed to work otherwise. They have to run as a profession.”

But for Jordan Chipangama, a college graduate from Zambia, the “finish line” is American citizenship.

“I married an American,” he says. “My son is American. I just see more opportunities being here than being in Zambia. I’m just pretty much trying for the American dream.”

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The Squirrel Hill first graders have been “pen pals” with these runners, while learning about “community and culture.”

“We’re practicing writing letters as they’re learning how to write,” says first grade teacher Leora Friedman. “So we wrote pen pal letters to them, and they wrote us back. And we practiced reading the letters. So it’s been a great project for us.”

Though the team from New York won’t be running in Pittsburgh, they do a fine job as athletic ambassadors.

As for watching the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, first grader Molly Kaplan admits, “I might be there late, because it’s early in the morning, and I like sleeping in.”

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