South Charlotte

Couple conquers long distance, will marry

Jessica Rogers, 22, will marry Victor Garces, 26, in April.

It has been a long journey for a couple that met in March 2007.

Rogers, a student at UNC Charlotte, was studying early education and looking for help with math. Garces, an electrical engineering student at the DuocUC School in Santiago, Chile, was looking for help with his English.

The two became acquainted through a social networking group and became friends, corresponding through video conferencing several times a week. Their friendship grew, and by the end of that year Garces invited Rogers to Chile.

"We weren't dating, but there was a strong friendship connection," said Rogers. "We had learned so much about each other during our daily conversations, I thought it would be fun to meet him."

Rogers, who lives in Matthews, and her mother made plans to vacation in Santiago and had reservations to stay at a nearby hotel, but after meeting the Garces family, they got along so well they ended up canceling their reservations and staying at the family home.

After spending five days vacationing and getting to know Garces, his parents and his large extended family, Rogers returned to the U.S. with her mother.

Both Rogers and Garces admit that after their first meeting, there was a chemistry that was more than just friendship, but because of the miles between them, they weren't sure if more than friendship would be practical.

Rogers returned to Chile four times in 2008, and in early 2009, the relationship had become serious enough that Rogers arranged for her family to accompany her to Chile.

The families met, the visit went well, and in August 2009, Rogers' father gave the couple his blessing and Garces proposed.

Now engaged, the two are planning their future together. Garces applied for a visa so he can finish his engineering degree in the U.S. while Rogers finishes her undergraduate degree and pursues her master's in education.

After graduation, Rogers wants to start a center to benefit children with special learning needs such as autism. Garces, who loves to invent children's toys, can help her by creating learning devices to help children with communication skills.

On Rogers' last visit, in June and July, the couple spent a month together enjoying the countryside and vineyards of Chile.

Because it fits their story and love for the two countries, Rogers and Garces plan to get married at a local vineyard in the North Carolina mountains.

On Dec. 24, after much anticipation and planning, Garces arrived in the U.S.

"He's here! He's the love of my life and it's the first Christmas snow: My dream has come true," she said.