Two weeks ago, a delegation of eleven students and one adult mentor journeyed to the US as a part of the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative. Love News saw the students off on September 17, and this past Saturday, we were there as they arrived back in the country. One of the students, Darrelli Garnett, told us about her experience.
Darrelli Garnett, Student from Sacred Heart: “It was a really great experience because when I applied for this program my mindset and my ideas that I had to bring back to my country it was so little and when we went there and they gave us workshops and so much teachings my mind just expand and my ideas grew and it was really good because we got to experience new things and I got closer to these guys that I didn’t know and as well with people from the other countries as well. I can’t choose a favorite part but I would say the two weeks with the host family because it was really emotional to leave them. The main thing I brought back is lessons that we had about entrepreneurship and we would like to bring back projects here so as a group we all decided on projects and that’s something we brought back for Belize.”
Jamall Swaso, Mentor: “The experience was very much life changing for most of the youths, many of them were emotional coming back home because they learned so much and they met so many different people and learned so many different skills from the various universities such as Georgetown University, University of Idaho and James Madison University. I think the main thing that they take back from this trip is networks because they have built networks with every other country like El Salvador, Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras so they have built networks with them and the other university professors to develop their project ideas and also grow as one Central America.”
Adam Benz, the public officer for the US Embassy in Belize, told us more about why this program is beneficial to the youths.
Adam Benz, Public Affairs Officer, United States Embassy in Belize: “The Youth Ambassadors Program is Department of State youth exchange program that is hemisphere wide and is an opportunity to build leadership skills for Central and Latin American Youth and youth in the United States. We think that it’s an excellent opportunity to build leadership skills and we look for talented youth in Belize. Currently there are twelve Belizean Youth that are participating in the three week program but we’ve had eighty people from Belize participate in the program since it started in Belize in 2010. It’s a great way to build long lasting relations, face to face interactions with the US and Belize and we also work with the Georgetown Program and they continue to work with the Belizean youth to both support them and seed projects and community projects after they return so it’s an ongoing relationship between the two countries. We continue to have a great relationship with all of our alumni from all of these programs and actually many times this is the beginning of a wonderful experience for them to become leaders in their communities and in Belize.”
The program is headed by Georgetown University in collaboration with the Love Foundation and World Learning.