Nine Belizean youth ambassadors travel to US Youth Ambassadors program
A cohort of youth ambassadors left the country yesterday. The nine Belizeans traveld to the United States to take part in the US State Department Youth Ambassadors program. We join Reporter Shilka Munoz for that story.
Nine Belizean youth ambassadors left the country yesterday to participate in a two-week Leadership exchange in the United States. The high school students will engage in activities to further develop their leadership and communications skills through a partnership with the Love Foundation, the US Embassy in Belize, and Georgetown University. Deborah Erkine, Managing Director of the Love Foundation, explained the importance of the annual initiative.
Deborah Erskine, Managing Director, The Love Foundation: “So the Love Foundation is actually the implementing partner for Belize and we partner with the US Embassy and Georgetown University.”
Reporter: If you could give us a short synopsis on the skills that these youths will learn during the program on their trip ?
Deborah Erskine, Managing Director, The Love Foundation: “So it’s the Youth Ambassador program is a cultural and leadership exchange and so the students will actually be going to a lot of workshops that will help them to build their capacity as leaders. Now when they come back there’s a follow on project that they do which is a project that they come up with while they’re there and it has to be something that would improve their community and it deals with civic engagement. So once they get back we will meet with them, do a debriefing, they will tell us what their project is and then they have small seed capital that helps them to get the project going. Because the students are representing different parts of Belize it has to be a project that will impact all of their communities simultaneously. So we’re not sure what that is yet because they decide that once they’re in the workshop that’s part of what they do so we will know what that project is but in the past we have students who have come back and done river cleanups because that was important to their community, we have had students who have come back and done a book exchange because they realized that students in their schools can’t all afford to buy textbooks so they started a book exchange where students can borrow textbooks and return them. So it all depends. We’ve had bullying campaigns so it all depends on what they feel is a affecting the youth and the youth within their community and then they decide what that project will be.”
Isis Foster, spoke on her role as the youths’ mentor and the aim that the program strives to reach
Isis Foster, Youth Mentor: “Well basically it’s just to make sure that the youths are participating in the workshops. These are mainly leadership workshops so that when they do come back they are able to start programs in their community to make a difference because that’s the main purpose of this program and also with the cultural exchange so not only will we be learning but we will also be sharing about our country as well.”
The youths will also participate in various workshops with the goal to bring positive change for their communities. Devenia Apolonio, one of the participants, shared her expectations and how she plans to use the knowledge she will gain upon her home.
Devenia Apolonio, Participant: “How I came across this program was through my grandmother who advised me she said “You know this program is something I feel that you should apply for.” and that’s how I signed up.”
Reporter: Are you excited ? What are you excited to learn and bring back to teach others ?
Devenia Apolonio, Participant: “I am thrilled. I am happy to be selected also and what I want to learn and bring back to my community is change, showing that no matter your age you can make a change and change the cycle to bring more positivity.”
For parents like, Adolphus Bart, it was a moment of pride for his child to receive the honor to part take in an achievement such as this one.
Adolphus Bart, Parent: ” I’m very very excited that this is a milestone for her. And due to family members I encouraged her to go in the program and thank God she’s successful and going today and I know it’s a stepping stone for greater things for her.”