This July, Global Ties KC implemented the 2023 Youth Ambassadors of Community Service program that welcomed 40 high school students from underserved communities across France and the French territories. Students were selected by the U.S. Embassy France to participate in the year long program focused on volunteerism, self-confidence, intercultural sensitivity, and independence. Throughout the year students worked to develop community action projects to serve their communities in areas like environmentalism, inclusion and cultural exchange, collection drives, and raising awareness for a variety of causes.
The Youth Ambassadors spent two weeks in the United States enhance participants’ understanding of American democratic institutions and volunteer initiatives, strengthen Franco-American relationship and engage with American peers. Students traveled to Washington DC for the program opening and closing, and were hosted in Kansas City, Chicago and Pensacola by Global Ties KC World Chicago and Gulf Coast Diplomacy, respectively.
For the program opening in Washington D.C. the Youth Ambassadors volunteered at Bread for the City, a local food pantry, participated in leadership and communication workshops, explored DC and visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The Youth Ambassadors were joined in DC by 5 American peer ambassadors, who are alumni of Global Ties KC’s Heartland Youth Diplomats Institute.
Students then departed for their host cities in Kansas City, Chicago and Pensacola where they had the opportunity to experience the American lifestyle through host families. Throughout all cities, students met with local high school students, volunteered, learned about local organizations dedicated to making a difference in their communities and enjoyed cultural activities. In Kansas City, students volunteered at Avenues of Life, Operation Breakthrough, and at Adelante Thrift. They learned about approaches to serving communities through education, professional development, food services, and more. Through meetings with Community Housing of Wyandotte County, Rosedale Development Center and Wyandotte High School, students learned about the history of Wyandotte county and current initiatives to promote equality and work to better the community. Youth Ambassadors also engaged in cultural activities like going to Sea Life aquarium, enjoying Betty Rae’s downtown and exploring Crown Center and Union Station.
During the program closing in DC the Youth Ambassadors were invited to the U.S. Department of State to share about their community action projects and hear from US diplomats about current foreign policy topics affecting United States and France, such as climate change and education. The French Embassy in DC also welcomed the Youth Ambassadors to meet with embassy staff and diplomats. Students were able to learn about careers in the French embassy and hear about the lasting impact of the Youth Ambassadors for Community Service Program. To celebrate the close of the program, students explored more of DC. They toured the capital, went to the Museum of Natural History and National Gallery of Art and saw many monuments and memorials around the National Mall.
The 40 students had a great time learning about service and volunteerism in the United States, engaging with local high school students, and participating in cultural exchanges within their communities and with their host families. Global Ties KC thanks the U.S. Embassy France Public Diplomacy Section of the U.S. Department of State and Association Jeunes Ambassadeurs Alumni (Youth Ambassadors Alumni Association) for their collaboration and its partners WorldChicago and Gulf Coast Diplomacy.