Five students and a mentor are representing Guyana on a three-week exchange Youth Ambassador Programme in the United States to develop and hone leadership skills to empower them as community leaders.
Kadeem Gordon, Kaya Dover, Larrex McAllister, Blossom Dublin, Kayshell Jennings and mentor Ryan Hoppie arrived in Denver, Colorado on October 6 and were due to travel to Washington, DC before the programme closes on October 29, a press statement from the US Embassy said. This is the second group of youth ambassadors representing Guyana for the 2013-2014 programme.
The Youth Ambassadors Programme, which includes participants from The Bahamas, Grenada, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago, focuses on civic education, youth empowerment, environmental issues, social entrepreneurship, civic engagement and food security.
“Through experiential activities, discussions, site visits, training modules and home stays, the participants will have the opportunity to develop the knowledge, attitudes, intellectual skills and practical competencies to effectively lead efforts for positive social chance in their home countries,” the Embassy said. The programme gives students and adult leaders an opportunity to develop leadership and problem-solving skills that enable them to act as community leaders. The project aims to hone participants’ sense of civic responsibility and foster civic activism.
Prior to their departure, US Ambassador to Guyana Brent Hardt met with the group to discuss their visit. Hardt gave the students a preview of what to expect during the visit and emphasised the value for both countries of their participation in this cultural exchange programme.
During the meeting, the participants shared their backgrounds and personal interests as well as their expectations of the programme. The ambassador noted that the programme will allow them a unique opportunity to see how young people in the United States are using creative ways to effect change. Hardt also said he is looking forward to seeing how the youth become engaged in their communities upon their return.
The group also met with Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport Dr Frank Anthony prior to their departure. They assured the minister of their commitment to represent Guyana well and discussed how they hope to continue to develop their leadership skills and boost their civic participation on their return to Guyana. Dr Anthony encouraged the young people to work on programmes that address issues and concerns affecting youth ranging from health and fitness to education and social behaviour.
According to the statement, during the trip the participants are expected to increase their understanding of American institutions while engaging in civic life in the US. They will explore facets unique to each country’s history and identity and engage in discussions and educational activities that promote learning on an academic and a personal level. Upon their return home, Youth Ambassadors are required to implement follow-on activities that will help them to stay in touch with each other, reflect on their experiences and integrate that learning into their lives. A core goal of the programme is for student leaders, once empowered, to bring their experience to bear in helping to encourage and guide other student leaders through community oriented service projects.