The Youth Ambassadors program brings together high school students and teachers for a 3-week exchange to develop their leadership skills, fosters community service, promotes mutual understanding and improves their knowledge about the U.S. Participants engage in workshops, community service activities, team building exercises, meetings with community leaders, and home stays with American families. Upon their return home, the students apply what they have learned to implement projects that serve needs in their communities.On 2017, two groups of students from San Cristobal and Monte Plata participated in the program.
Juan Arias, Rosa Orbes, Fernanda Santana, Miguel Brito and Brígida Coplín from San Cristobal developed project Reciclando y Reusando, a series of environmental workshops and activities with middle school students that trained 160 at-risk youth from the San Cristobal community in solid waste management based on the three R’s reducing, reusing and recycling. Incorporating commonly recycled objects like water bottles, bottle caps, CDs, egg cartons and tires, into an arts and crafts workshop, the alumni taught the students about the importance of proper waste disposal and reusing items to reduce trash. To bring it all together, the alumni team concluded the project by organizing a day to build a mural with high school students and members of the Lavapies community, a disadvantaged community in San Cristobal, who volunteered to draw and create recycled elements for the design. Most of the materials used were gathered around the area during previous school and garden clean-ups. “This has been an amazing experience. Some children saw us working on the mural on the first day and to our surprise, they decided to get involved on the second day of work!” says Brígida.
The Monte Plata cohort is working on project “Detente!”, a series of workshops focused on preventing teen pregnancy and train 200 youth from the Monte Plata province on reproductive health. This project will be launched at the start of the 2017-2018 school year in September.