Last Friday, I had the opportunity to introduce Secretary Clinton as she, Assistant Secretary Ann Stock, and I welcomed a group of 21 Youth Ambassadors to the State Department from the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. The conversation I had with these amazing high school leaders from non-elite backgrounds reminded me of why I'm optimistic about our hemisphere -- and why I love my job!
These young people will spend three weeks in Washington, D.C., San Antonio, Texas, and Marquette, Michigan, staying with host families, attending workshops on leadership and service, and taking part in community service projects and cultural activities with American teenagers. It was clear from the start of our conversation why they were chosen -- they were so eloquent on the abundance of talent among young people in their countries, but the lack of opportunity and real encouragement too. Their enthusiasm to absorb everything they could in their three weeks here and return home as agents of change in their communities and mentors to their peers was infectious.
I'm confident that we will learn as much from them as they do from us, and that they'll return home with life-long networks of friends and colleagues. This is policy that makes a real difference in people's lives!