My Youth Ambassadors’ Experience – by Emily Wang
When I first saw the poster advertising for a sponsored three-week exchange program to the United States, I thought it was too good to be true. After seeing that the Youth Ambassadors Program with Canada was sponsored by organizations such as Fulbright Canada and the U.S Department of State, I realized that I absolutely had to apply for this opportunity. The next thing I knew, I was on a plane to Ottawa!
Bleary eyed and slightly jet-lagged, I arrived in Ottawa along with some other participants. Over the next few days we met the other participants from all across Canada and visited the U.S Embassy where we introduced our community service project ideas. After that, we headed across the border. Our experience in Plattsburgh was nothing short of fantastic. Everyone in the town was extremely kind, especially the homestay family to whom I was assigned. I had the opportunity to share my homestay with another participant, Dasi, who I had such a great time with! The homestay portion was very interesting and unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, as it allowed me to become closer with Dasi and our homestay family.
During our time in Plattsburgh we had the chance to participate in a number of leadership workshops and learn more about civic engagement from local community members. We spent a lot of time with our mentors, who helped us plan our service projects. The entire team at SUNY always ensured that we all felt happy and comfortable, especially since we were away from home for almost the entire month. We ended up enjoying the program so much that we almost didn’t want to return to Canada! In addition to exploring the gorgeous Adirondacks, we also had the chance to visit the historic site of Franklin Roosevelt’s home, the Canadian Embassy and many of the museums in Washington D.C. We toured the monuments of Washington and ended our last night there in front of the White House.
After Youth Ambassadors, I returned home to Vancouver and began working on the service project that I had planned. My project involved setting up a buddy/pen-pal program between my school and a First Nations school in Northern British Columbia. I first visited the school when I was selected to represent my school at their 30th anniversary potlatch ceremony, which was a humbling experience. Upon my return I wanted to create a pen-pal program, so students at my school could build friendships like the ones I forged at the potlatch. Thanks to the support from my mentors and everyone involved with Youth Ambassadors, we are currently writing our second letters back to our buddies! As well, I am coordinating this program with an art auction at my school, with funds going to the art program that many of our buddies are part of. I cannot wait to see where this program will continue to grow.
The 2018 Youth Ambassadors Program with Canada is now open for applications for both youth and mentors. Apply NOW!