June 4, 2024

By Eric House

A young adult stands in front of a statue with the letters "WMU" on it.
Geovany at Western Michigan University where he visited its multicultural center and Pride room.

As a Youth Ambassador last year, Geovany Axpuac Solis experienced a host of new things. But one particular experience had a lasting effect on him. On a trip to Western Michigan University (WMU), he visited its multicultural center and spent time in the Pride room, where he engaged in multicultural dialogues and initiatives while learning about traditional resources available to students. The trip inspired him so much, he was compelled to write to the center’s staff.

“The work you do here saves lives. Please never stop being a resource to students who need a safe space,” he said. “I am of the belief that love is love and that no one should get in the way of that, so I am personally impacted by the message your office works so passionately to promote. Thank you for making the world safer for love!”

We asked Geovany about his experience as a Youth Ambassador, what Pride means to him, and how Youth Ambassadors can be ambassadors for LGBTQ+ Pride in their home communities.

How did you first hear about the Youth Ambassadors Program? What made you want to participate?

I found out about the Youth Ambassadors program through my educational institution. The director motivated me to participate in the program. What made me want to participate was the change that I want to generate in my country of Guatemala and in people, motivating them so that they can be whatever they want to be.

What was unique about the Youth Ambassadors Program?

What struck me most about the program was the number of organizations that exist to improve the world, not just one country. Discovering a new organization every day that makes an incredible impact was amazing.

Did you learn new skills on the program?

I can say positively that I did acquire new skills. By developing skills in mental strength and adaptability, I was able to see my personal potential, as well as the ability to be a leader and an example to others.

Four young adults pose with the Guatemala flag in front of the White House in Washington, DC.
Geovany (left) with his fellow Youth Ambassadors at the White House in Washington, DC.

Why was Western Michigan University’s multicultural center and Pride room important to you?

When I explored the multicultural center, it seemed like a very amazing place. It was a very large, diverse, and free campus resource for everyone to be themselves. And when I explored WMU’s Pride room it seemed like a serene place, allowing each person to be themselves. Something that caught my attention about that place was that it is safe so that each person can express their sexual orientation freely, without expecting to be judged. On the contrary, that room is a place where people can seek support to feel included in society and know that their sexual orientation or gender does not matter. The only important thing is to love.

What does LGBTQ+ Pride mean to you personally?

For me, personally, LGBTQ+ Pride is a community that encourages different ways of identifying as a person and the various sexual orientations that exist. It is not only about a community, but it is also about a way of thinking that includes acceptance of new people and different ways of being.

How can youth be ambassadors for LGBTQ+ Pride in their communities?

Young people can be ambassadors of LGBTQ+ Pride in their communities by supporting that community, providing acceptance, and communicating integrity, respect, and equality towards people with diverse sexual orientations and gender identification.

A young adult poses in front of a news center display at a museum.
Geovany at a display at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum.

Do you feel that the Youth Ambassadors Program provided a safe space for LGBTQ+ youth to feel empowered and supported?

Yes, I believe that the Young Ambassadors program provided a place where each member could have their own essence, regardless of their skin color, sexual orientation, gender, or social class. The objective of the program is to train young people to be capable of leading groups with the purpose of improving their community or their country.

You recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in science and plan to continue your studies in teaching secondary education, specializing in mathematics, physics, and gastronomy! This is so unique. What are your professional goals?

My current professional goal is to become a teacher who can train children and young people by teaching them what is essential so that they can be successful in life. But at the same time, I want to open a restaurant in which I can transmit feelings and flavors that are different from the common ones. And finally, I want to grow and improve personally and intellectually in areas that I have not mastered by learning from each person I have the opportunity to meet.

The Youth Ambassadors Program brings together high school students and adult mentors from across the Western Hemisphere to promote mutual understanding, increase leadership skills, and prepare youth to make a difference in their communities.

Youth Ambassadors is a program of the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government. The program is administered by World Learning in partnership with Amigos de las Américas and Georgetown University CIED.