More than 800 youth volunteers representing approximately 40 nations and over 25 different Colombian states gathered together at the 2nd Annual World Summit for Youth Volunteerism to share stories about how they are changing the world. Partners of the Americas, the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE), and Universidad del Norte, with a multitude of supporters, including the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, hosted the 2nd Annual World Summit for Youth Volunteerism Summit in Barranquilla, Colombia. In the midst of a sea of inspiring young people, I experienced how the world is changing through the voices and actions of youth around the world.
The Summit's theme of "You Make it Happen!" truly represents what these motivated youth leaders are accomplishing right now. To quote CEO of Partners of the Americas Steve Vetter, "Youth are not the future but the present!" And there were 800 examples of this statement surrounding me at the summit. These youth volunteers are affecting the world around them now, not waiting for the future, not waiting to become more "grown up" -- but bringing about positive changes in their own communities and beyond.
Take for example a most impressive 19 year old: Ms. Nathaly Rivera. Nathaly is a former Youth Ambassador and the co-founder of Youth Colombian Leaders, an organization that promotes volunteerism nationwide and brings together youth participants, such as Youth Ambassador Alumni, to implement volunteer programs throughout Colombia. Nathaly is also deeply involved with Partners of the Americas, and especially the program "A Ganar," which promotes civic values through sports. On November 4, Nathaly led the plenary session of the summit and fielded questions from the audience, sharing with her peers how to inspire and organize youth volunteerism.
Nathaly is one of 12 youth summit participants sponsored by the U.S. Embassy. The embassy's group of youth leaders, made up of Fulbright Scholars, International Visitor Leadership Program participants, Martin Luther King Fellows, and Youth Ambassador alumni, led plenary sessions and breakout panels at the summit. They discussed everything from the main theme of youth volunteerism, to human rights promotion, young Colombian leaders, and the teaching of Afro-Colombian history. The Peace Corps contingent was out in full force too, leading a panel on how to promote youth leadership.
The 2nd Annual World Summit for Youth Volunteerism gave young people around the world the spotlight and the time to shine and truly demonstrate their power to enact change. I can't wait to see what more they do because they really are "Making it Happen!" Find out more on Facebook.