Empowering Young People as Economic and Civic Actors

Posted by Zeenat Rahman
March 6, 2013
Young Leaders Ask Secretary Kerry Questions During YouthConnect Event in Berlin

In his first major address as Secretary of State, John Kerry spoke about young people acting as a "global cohort." He spoke about a generation proficient with technologies that keep them connected in ways no prior generation has ever been, and the opportunities that this presents all of us.

On his inaugural trip overseas, Secretary Kerry engaged this generation during #YouthConnect, a special event at the high-tech, coffee shop Basecamp in Berlin. The Secretary and more than 100 young people discussed foreign policy and global issues. The participants demonstrated a keen sense of global citizenship by asking questions about a broad range of topics and regions. This event illustrated that young people do want to engage with U.S. diplomats and policymakers to find solutions to issues of global concern.

The United States has traditionally tackled tough questions of security and economics with our counterparts in Europe. By traveling there on his first trip as Secretary of State, Secretary Kerry reinforced our commitment to our European partners. We consider young people an important part of that partnership and will continue to engage them on issues that matter not just to our transatlantic relationship, but to our common foreign policy goals.

My office, the Office of Global Youth Issues, aims to ensure that the perspectives and ideas of young people are incorporated into policy discussions. In my frequent interactions with young people from all over the world, I have seen that this idea of global citizenship is far reaching. Youths in Europe -- and every other region -- are acting locally to engender positive change, economic opportunity, and stability, while also thinking globally about international issues and how they might make an impact.

Through events like #YouthConnect, engagement with more than 50 Embassy Youth Councils, and social media interactions, the State Department is ensuring that young people are able to contribute meaningfully to policy conversations. These discussions often result in youths devising their own solutions for specific concerns. It is through active participation and problem-solving that young people will develop the skills they need to go from global citizens to global leaders. We do not aim to solve problems for the next generation, but with them.

In Berlin, Secretary Kerry acknowledged the positive potential of this well-connected generation and invited youths to join with the United States and their peers around the world to "pull each other together to solve really big serious challenges." That is the opportunity I believe this generation represents.

Join the Office of Global Youth Issues on Facebook and follow @Zeenat on Twitter.



April 6, 2013

Daniel in Germany writes:

I really appreciate the business spirit of our current generation when it comes to the exchange of ideas, concepts and technologies. The amount of external investments from Germany into the US and from the US into Germany is the final evidence of a healthy relation between both countries. I am a small blogger and I personally had only positive experiences with the intercultural exchange between the US and Germany. Let's keep the spirit going!


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