Ambassadors, in general, are government officials of one nation sent to another in an effort to assist the foreign nation in one way or another. As the world become a global village, ambassadors are getting younger and younger. Youths as young as 11 and 12 years old are being encouraged to become youth ambassadors. While older youths, preparing for college and beyond, are taking their first trips across seas and national borders to start making a difference for tomorrow’s sake. At one time, it is possible, that the phrase “youth ambassador’s program” might have only returned a handful of results in a Google search. Today, however, there are as many of these programs as their are organizations to sponsor them.
The International YMCA has teamed with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State to organize a youth ambassador program sending students of Central and South America to the US. According to the website “the program is designed to help prepare these participants in youth leadership development, civic education and community service, and it promotes mutual understanding between the people of the Americas.” The International YMCA prides itself on “working with young people to build global citizens who are caring, responsible, and committed to service”, as is stated on their Facebook page. One way they are working to reach this ambition is by expanding their horizons to include study tours to Jerusalem and Jordan, as well as organizing a global teens film festival in November of 2009.
On the other side of the world, the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development program sends skilled area young adults to the developing lands of Asia, the Pacific, and Africa. The AYAD program “is committed to achieving sustainable development through capacity building, skills exchange and institutional strengthening.” The young people volunteering in this program are working with the Australian Government and the global effort to rid the world of poverty and inequality.
The Millennium Developmental Goals include; eradicating world hunger, achieving universal primary education, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, Combating AIDS/HIV, malaria, and other diseases, promoting gender equality, ensuring environmental sustainability, and building a global partnership for development.
Samaritan’s Feet provides scholarships for middle school students to travel to impoverished areas of Africa and other continents. The aim of the youth ambassador program is to “positively affect the students’ perspective on life as they display selfless service through cultural, educational, humanitarian and sports activities, and develop life skills through the exchange of ideas and talents among diverse groups of people.” The kids do all of this providing poor children with shoes and washing their feet. Sure, they do more than that, but this is their main purpose.
While all three of these programs are different, they all have the same goal; mentor young people as they mature into responsible citizens of the world. These programs are all working to help the youth of today learn to make decisions for tomorrow, while building global networks and cultural diversity. A quick Google search will return to any individual a program that fits them, where they can volunteer, lead, or contribute financially.