Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton welcomed 45 Brazilian Youth Ambassadors and two educators during their visit to the U.S. Department of State on January 25, 2012. The event marked the 10th Anniversary of the Youth Ambassadors Program with Brazil. Since 2002, students chosen from Brazil's public schools for their leadership and community service have visited the United States for a three-week exchange program sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the U.S. Embassy in Brazil. During their meeting, Secretary Clinton recognized the role of youth in serving their communities. She also highlighted the United States' strong commitment to engaging young people worldwide and to using people-to-people diplomacy as a means to create opportunities for youth. You can view photos of the meeting here.
As Secretary Clinton told the Youth Ambassadors, "And because we so greatly value the relationship between the Brazilian people and the American people, we are counting on you to continue to reach out and develop your own skills and your own ambitions to make a contribution to Brazil and also to further relations between our two countries."
The Youth Ambassadors Program underscores the Secretary's priorities of engaging international youth in meaningful dialogue, fostering relationships among youth from all backgrounds, and creating networks of youth leaders. It is also an important element in advancing the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs' social inclusion agenda.
After last week's arrival in the snow -- a first experience for many -- the participants went to work on a community service project. Enthusiastic Youth Ambassadors, local citizens, and staff from partner organization World Learning cleaned a local green space and planted trees in a neighborhood in Northeast Washington, D.C. In a few short hours, the group's effort transformed the community space into a place all could enjoy. The Youth Ambassadors will return to Brazil with new skills, perspectives, and energy to get involved in service projects in their home communities. The Youth Ambassadors also participated in site meetings, learning activities, leadership training, and home visits with local families across the United States.
This year's Ambassadors used social media to share their experiences in real time. Through videos and photos, the Ambassadors' families, friends, and others in Brazil had the opportunity to experience the United States virtually, gaining a better understanding of American culture and country through the eyes of the Youth Ambassadors.
Since its inception, the program has expanded to 25 countries across the Americas to bring together high school students, ages 15-18, and adult mentors to promote mutual understanding, increase leadership skills, and prepare youth to make a difference in their communities. Exchanges are primarily from Latin America and the Caribbean to the United States, but also include delegations from the United States to select countries.
For additional details on the Youth Ambassadors Program, please visit exchanges.state.gov.