Youth Ambassadors program Guatemala
Youth Ambassadors (YA) is an exchange program for youth ages 14-17. Organized by the State Department’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs (ECA) in collaboration with implementer World Learning, Inc., this three-week exchange allows participants from regions around the world to learn more about – and experience – the United States through interactive workshops, activities, briefings, community service, and cultural experiences. Participants broaden their understanding of civic participation, leadership, and environmental entrepreneurship. Guatemala is included in programs designed for participants from Central American and the Caribbean. YA Guatemala is one of the very few exchange programs that provides youth, especially from rural areas and often of indigenous background, the opportunity to participate in a U.S.-based program without English language skills.
The Guatemalan youth chosen for the YA program are from families with limited resources, selected through a competitive interview process that considers their interests and demonstrated commitment to activities around leadership, environmental awareness, community development, and social entrepreneurship. Upon their return to Guatemala, they are provided additional program funding to launch innovative projects in their own communities.
During their first week in the United States, the YA participants visit Washington, D.C., where they are able to network with counterparts from other Central American and Caribbean countries to build a foundation for the exchange experience.
During the second week in the United States, Youth Ambassadors live with host families and get an opportunity to spend quality time with them. Additionally, they learn about U.S. history, economy, and educational system, interacting with U.S. youth by attending classes at local high schools and participating in discussions to compare and contrast secondary education in their home countries with what they experience in the United States.
In the third week, the Youth Ambassadors develop potential projects for their communities, building on the foundation of the previous weeks. Utilizing expertise provided by expert entrepreneurs, participants learn how to put a project proposal together, deliver an “elevator pitch” to succinctly explain the proposal, and even design a business website.
The Youth Ambassadors program for Central American and the Caribbean is directed toward students of high school age (14-17 years old), accompanied by at least one adult educator/mentor, from the countries of Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Panama. On an annual basis, eight or nine Guatemalan youth and one chaperone from departments across Guatemala are selected to participate in the Youth Ambassadors Program, for a total of nearly 145 Guatemalan youth and adults between 2010 and 2022.