For the second consecutive year Legacy International has facilitated the Emerging Young Leaders Award and Exchange Program on behalf of the U.S. Department of State. Young people from around the world are nominated by their embassies and ten are chosen by the State Department to receive this prestigious award. As part of winning the award, the Leaders travel to the U.S. for three weeks and take part in job shadows, professional development workshops, cultural activities and exchange opportunities as well as one-on-one mentorship with professionals in their industry or working with their cause/issue of interest.
The official award ceremony was held on May 4, 2017 at the George C. Marshall Conference Center. Amidst a packed room of distinguished guests, friends, school groups, media correspondents, dignitaries, state department staff, and program supporters the ten Leaders received beautiful crystal awards. During the ceremony Emerging young leaders Chamathya Fernando (Sri Lanka) and Moises Alexander Salazar (Peru) shared moving speeches on their experiences and dedication to achieving peace in their countries and ultimately the world.
Shortly following the awards ceremony the young leaders took to the friendly skies and flew to Austin, Texas. An absolute highlight of their visit in the states, Austin showed them good barbecue, amazing southern hospitality, and an awesome community of social innovators and changemakers by way of startup tech companies, social entrepreneurs, coworking spaces and incubator hubs. The Austin portion of the trip was organized by BRAVE Communities: Building Relationships Awareness Voices & Engagement (BRAVE), equipping young leaders to address social change via intercultural teambuilding skills. They kicked off their stay with a visit to Community First Village. Staying the night in teepees and waking up to a communal breakfast followed by a community volunteer effort. Leaders pitched in to do various tasks needed to maintain the grounds such as removing weeds from the community gardens, creating a trellis, perfecting and testing a mixture to create bricks from straw and mud, building a fence, and clearing an area for the future erection of a wall.
With all of the amazing opportunities, fanfare and important meetings surrounding the acceptance of this award it’s easy to forget that this group of amazing people are only between the ages of 18 and 24. That is, until we find time in the schedule to go shopping, then all bets are off!
The U.S. Department of State’s Emerging Young Leaders Award and Exchange Program recognizes youth around the world for their efforts to create positive social change in challenging environments. The Emerging Young Leaders Award is granted to ten outstanding young leaders (ages 18-24) from across the globe.
The Emerging Young Leaders Award is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and organized by Legacy International