Twenty high school students and two teachers from the first-ever delegation of Youth Ambassadors from Haiti met with Counselor Cheryl Mills, Deputy Assistant Secretary Lee Satterfield, and Special Adviser for Global Youth Issues Ronan Farrow at the Department of State to mark the culmination of their three-week exchange program in the United States. U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Haiti Desk Officer Belinda Bernard also participated in the meeting.
Counselor Mills offered words of congratulations and encouragement, and reiterated the State Department's commitment to Haiti and youth issues around the world. One of the students, Philemon from Jeremie, thanked the State Department on behalf of the entire group and said the participants "are eager to make a change in our community and Haiti" as a result of the program.
Program activities were focused on reconstruction and youth involvement in community crisis and disaster relief. Exchange activities began in New York City with historical and cultural orientations, visits to local civic and community organizations, interactive workshops, and leadership training activities. The participants were then split into two groups for a week-long home stay in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, or Ridgewood, New Jersey. The final week of the exchange took place in Washington, D.C., where participants looked at issues from a national context, polished their action plans for projects at home, and prepared for the transition from the program to home.
The Youth Ambassadors Program brings together high school students and adult mentors from 25 countries across the Americas to promote mutual understanding, increase leadership skills, and prepare youth to make a difference in their communities. More than 400 Youth Ambassadors participate in the program each year. This is the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs' first-ever delegation of Youth Ambassadors from Haiti.