Snapshot: Youth Ambassadors
The Youth Ambassadors Program, funded by the State Department’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, offers community service-minded students the opportunity to travel abroad, stay with a host family, and begin training on a community project they design and implement . After the international exchange, students return home where they implement a community project with support from adult mentors.
Youth Ambassadors from Paraguay and Uruguay are currently on the international exchange portion of the program. They are staying with host families in San Francisco and Madison, Wisconsin while they participate in daily training and activities to prepare them to undertake their community projects. One Youth Ambassador described her favorite day of her experience so far:
A Tuesday with an Artistic Touch – Diana Vicezar
It has been 6 days since the Paraguayan and Uruguayan Youth Ambassadors arrived in San Francisco, CA, and everything is going wonderfully. I have to say that everything in this city impresses me: the buildings, the nature, the people, and especially the BART! It is amazing and every trip we take is really exciting! Even though it’s not the first time, riding the train always gives you the feeling that you are on a roller coaster, or at least that is how Sara (my Uruguayan sister) and I feel.
Arriving at 16th Street Mission from Fremont takes exactly one hour and 5 minutes, so…what do we do during the whole trip? Easy, we think about everything we might do that day, the activities we’ll do with AMIGOS, the photographs we can take, and what we’ll do with our host family when we return home. Actually, there are many things to think about, but we began our first Tuesday in the United States without knowing that this would be one of the best days of our lives.
When we arrived at the BART Station, the whole group was already waiting for us to go to our second day of workshops at the Impact Hub in San Francisco, which is the best co-working space I have ever seen. The day began with an overview of the day’s agenda and a game led by Maite (a Youth Ambassador from Uruguay) and I. We chose “Ninja,” a game that we already played in the pre-travel camp in Paraguay. We had to teach it to our Uruguayan colleagues. It was great to see how everyone participated right away, and as the game progressed, it was even more entertaining. At the end of the game, Maite and I presented on the History of the Mission, a historic San Francisco neighborhood where Latinos made up most of the population. We both loved how everyone was very interested in knowing more and more about that fantastic place, which we all wanted to visit.
After some interesting workshops in the morning, it was time for lunch. If there is one thing I should highlight, it is lunch time at the Impact Hub. They are special because we take a moment to share experiences and interesting facts with the whole group, and then continue working on the ideas for our community initiatives.
When we all thought it was time to go home, Rachel (Program Manager at Amigos de las Americas) came into the room where we were doing the workshops, to give us what might be the best surprise since we arrived in San Francisco.
We were going to visit the Mission!
We were all really excited, with our cell phones and cameras ready to take as many photos as if it was the first time. We left the Impact Hub and walked to the “nexus and cultural epicenter,” as Maite and I defined the Mission in the morning. I have to admit that I recorded videos and took pictures the whole time! With my Paraguayan flag on my back and my cell phone in my hand, I took every opportunity to capture each mural, until I ran out of storage space on my cell phone.
Rachel prepared a challenge for us: to take pictures of specific murals such as: a musical mural, a historical one, one with a famous San Francisco landmark, etc. We divided ourselves into groups and started the challenge.
It was impressive to see how each mural had a story behind it. We noticed the happiness, sadness, or frustration of the artists who painted them. We spent 2 hours looking at the murals and taking many, many photos. At the end of the day we went to the BART station at 16th Street Mission and everyone took the BART to go home. My first Tuesday in the US has definitely been one of the best and most artistic days of my life.
Learn more about the Youth Ambassadors Program here!