South American Youth Connect with Americans to Improve the Environment

World Learning, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of State, will host 15 high school students and three adult mentors from Colombia, Ecuador and Peru on a three-week youth exchange program that aims to build leadership skills and promote environmental stewardship.

The Youth Leadership Program began on September 1 when the participants—five students and one mentor from each country—arrived in Washington, D.C. In Washington, they will participate in workshops on teambuilding, leadership skills and social change and volunteer with DC Greens, a local organization connecting communities to healthy food, on the Walker Jones Farm.

From there the students will split into two groups to spend 12 days in either Charlotte, N.C., or Kansas City, Mo., where they will live with host families, learn about environmental conservation, perform community service and attend cultural events. World Learning has partnered with the International House of Charlotte and Global Ties Kansas City to implement this part of the program.

The group will then reunite in West Palm Beach, Fla., to participate in World Water Monitoring Challenge acitivites led by EarthEcho International, Philippe Cousteau Jr.'s environmental education and youth leadership nonprofit. The activities will include an expedition to reintroduce native plant species in critical stormwater treatment areas, followed by a Google Hangout with classrooms around the United States on September 18. While in Florida they will also draft plans for environmental service projects to implement after returning home.

The exchange students were selected through a competitive application and interview process conducted by the U.S. Embassies in Bogota, Lima and Quito. The program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and implemented in partnership with EarthEcho International and the U.S. Embassies in Bogota, Lima and Quito.

World Learning organizes academic, cultural and professional exchanges for 2,000 people from 140 countries annually, on behalf of the U.S. Department of State.

Posted by: on September 5, 2014