Adult Mentors

Travel Dates:
July 16- August 7, 2017 (tentative)
Program Fees:
No Cost
Application Cutoff:
Application Closed

Program Overview

Amizade is proud to announce the Youth Ambassadors Program with South America (YAPSA), a program of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, administered by Amizade.

This exchange program offers a unique opportunity for a diverse group of young people from Peru and the North Central Appalachia region of the United States to travel, learn about another culture, develop their leadership skills, and become empowered to make positive changes in their communities. Through this program, Amizade and our program partners, aim to empower youth to become integral leaders and decision-makers in their communities and to gain a clear understanding that the power to impact positive change in their communities lies within each of them. The guiding goal of the YAPSA Program is to build individual and collective leadership, critical and analytic problem-solving, and teamwork for youth to see themselves as agents of change and to become actively involved in community service and civic life. Participants will develop leadership and social entrepreneurship skills, explore themes of environmental protection, and promote collective action to contribute to and participate in advancing positive systemic changes in their communities.

The Youth Ambassadors Program with South America will include 2 exchange programs, the first program in Summer 2017, will be the Youth Ambassadors from the United States traveling to Peru. This will be followed by the South American Youth Ambassadors from Peru traveling to the United States in Fall 2017. Please see side bar for details of each exchange.

Program Activities

Peru Exchange, Summer 2017 (July- August, 2017*)

12 Youth Ambassadors and 2 Adult Mentors from the North Central Appalachia region (greater Pittsburgh, Western Pennsylvania, and West Virginia) will travel first to Peru for 3 weeks in the summer of 2017. During this exchange, both student participants and adult mentors will stay with host families in Ollantaytambo and Patacancha, Peru as well as an eco-lodge in the rainforest of Puerto Maldonado.  The ambassadors will attend skill-building workshops, participate in leadership and community development trainings, visit local community agencies and student-led organizations, take part in community service activities, and learn about environmental sustainability and social entrepreneurship from different cultural and geographic perspectives. The program will also include visits to cultural attractions, museums, and other notable sites including a day trip to Machu Picchu. Each day will end with facilitated discussion and reflection sessions.

U.S. Exchange, Fall 2017 (mid October to- mid November, 2017*)
Youth Ambassadors in DCWhile in Pittsburgh, 20 Youth Ambassadors and 2 Adult Mentors will have the opportunity to stay with a host family, meet and spend time with the returned U.S. participants, participate in site visits to local community agencies and student-led organizations, attend skill-building workshops, participate in leadership and community development trainings, engage in outdoor activities and team building exercises, shadow Pittsburgh high school students for a “typical” school day, interact socially with local Pittsburgh youth, engage in community service activities, and learn about environmental sustainability and social entrepreneurship from different cultural and geographic perspectives. The US portion of the program will conclude with a 5-day civic engagement and service-learning workshop in Washington, DC. This experience will familiarize participants with the US political system and dimensions of citizenship and civic engagement. In addition, the youth ambassadors will explore how social entrepreneurship can combat social issues such as hunger and homelessness. They will have the opportunity to tour the Mall, museums, government buildings, and have a special visit to the U.S. Department of State, Youth Divisions office.

*travel dates are tentative and may be subject to change depending on flight availability.

Community Action Plan

During the program, each Youth Ambassador will identify an environmental or social issue affecting their community to be addressed and further refined into Community Action Projects (CAPs). At the end of their time in each country, each participant–or participant team–will present their Community Action Project to their peers, program staff, and community leaders working with the group, for feedback and guidance implementing CAPs at home. After returning home, Amizade, with the help of the Adult Mentors, will continue to support exchange participants as they develop and implement their projects. Each participant or project team will be required to meet monthly with their Adult Mentor (or with an adult leader or YAPSA staff member) to facilitate their CAP, continue the learning process, reinforce the values and skills imparted during the exchange program, and report on their project implementation progress. This opportunity will facilitate continued application of leadership and entrepreneurial concepts including vision, organizational planning, identifying community resources, recruitment and management of volunteers, and outreach. It will also be an opportunity to put into practice aspects of transparency and tolerance.

Past projects have included mobilizing high school aged volunteers, implementing school recycling programs, bat conservation awareness, virtual Spanish-English conversation groups, urban bike safety, and more!

Adult Mentor Role & Responsibilities

Description of the Adult Mentor Role:

The U.S. Youth Ambassadors Program with South America is designed for U.S. teenagers ages 15-18.  Daily activities may be non-formal, non-traditional, experiential in nature, and designed specifically for teenagers.  These activities include working outdoors, promoting teambuilding and conflict resolution goals, and developing cross-cultural understanding.  The adult participants have many roles on the program:

  • Participant:  The adult participant is an active participant who attends and is engaged in all program activities and events, including social activities. Adult participants actively contribute to the group and to the learning process.  Adult participants must remain with the program throughout the entire trip. Personal travel during the program is not permitted.
  • Group Leader
    • Travel: Assisting program coordinators with managing students when traveling in airports.
    • Leadership: It is important to understand that there may be times where the Amizade program coordinator is not present for meetings because they may be preparing for other activities.  In that case it is up to you, the adult, to serve as the group leader.
    • Assisting Amizade Staff: There are many instances in which the Amizade staff will ask for your assistance in helping with different sessions or activities, either as a participant or as a facilitator.  There may also be times when we’ll need you to assist with evening transitions and room checks.
    • Program Pace: While this exchange takes place in Peru, the pace of the program is “American-style,” which means it’s very busy and requires a lot of energy and a high level of attention.  It is expected that meetings and sessions will start on time.  Become familiar with the schedule and program rules, and assist staff in reminding participants about upcoming workshops, field trips, and daily activities.
    • Observing: Paying attention to the mood, needs, and dynamics of the group – notice those who are isolated, homesick, or having difficulty adjusting.  Please communicate relevant observations to the staff.
  • Adult Mentor:
    • Role Model: Model respectful, positive, and cooperative interactions.  Help to create positive energy and enthusiasm among participants.  Support the development of a community among participants.
  • Community Action Plans: Upon returning home to the US, the student participants will be responsible for designing and implementing projects in their community. One of the key responsibilities of the Adult Mentors is the supervise, facilitate, and assist the students with these projects.


Eligibility & Time Commitment


  • Be active in working with youth in either a high school or community setting;
  • Be willing and available to spend three weeks in Peru in July 2017;
  • Be willing and able to meet periodically with student participants during the academic year 2017-2018 to support and monitor their follow-up work and community projects;
  • Submit a complete application, statement of interest, including photograph and letters of recommendation;
  • Hold US Citizenship.

Criteria for Selection:

  • Demonstrated interest in and commitment to service in their local community;
  • Strong record in teaching and/or supporting youth programs;
  • Demonstrated leadership ability;
  • Ability to work cooperatively in diverse groups of students and peers and tolerate the opinions of others; and
  • Commitment to working with youth after the exchange to help them implement community projects.

Time Commitment
Participation in the Youth Ambassadors Program with South America requires a significant and serious time commitment from both the youth/ student participants as well as Adult Mentors, from April 2017 -February 2018.

U.S. Adult Mentors Must:

  • Participate in 3 of 4 mandatory pre-departure meetings between April and June, 2017 as well as 2 additional pre-departure meetings for adults and staff.
  • Engage in all workshops and activities during the summer exchange to Peru.
  • Facilitate and oversee the student Community Action Projects during the fall and winter of 2017-18.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Do I have to hold U.S. Citizenship to apply for this program?
    • Yes. You must be a U.S. Citizen in order to be eligible for this program.
  2. What are the dates of the program? 
    • The US Youth Ambassadors will travel to Bolivia and Peru in summer 2016. The tentative dates are July 2- 27, 2016. However, please note that these dates are subject to change depending on flight availability.
    • The Youth Ambassadors from Bolivia and Peru will travel to the US in fall 2016. The tentative dates are late September – late October 2016. However, please note that these dates are subject to change depending on flight availability.
  3. I don’t currently have a passport, can I still apply for this program?
    • Yes. While you don’t need to have a passport to apply for the program, you will need to apply for a passport if you are selected to participate in the program. All costs associated with the passport application process will be covered by the program for selected finalists only.
  4. I’m only 14 years old now, but I’ll be 15 in June 2016, can I still apply?
    • Yes. As long as you will be between 15 and 18 during the exchange (July 2016) you are eligible to apply.
  5. I’m 17 years old, but I will graduate from high school in 2016, can I still apply?
    1. No. You must have at least 1 semester of high school remaining following the program in order to complete your Community Action Project.
  6. Who should I contact if I have any questions about the application or program?
    • Contact Sara Noel or Julia Smucker at Amizade, 412-586-4986 or with any questions about the application or the program. Please do NOT contact the U.S. Embassy with your questions.
  7. Can siblings apply to the Youth Ambassadors Program?
    • Yes, siblings can apply.
  8. Can parents or applicants apply to be Adult Mentors?
    • Parents and children are both eligible to apply. However, parents and children are not able to travel together, if both a parent and child are accepted, only one will be allowed to attend.
  9. Will I receive confirmation that my application has been received?
    • Yes. You will receive a computer-generated email for the online application. You will also receive an email confirmation when ALL required documents have been received by the Amizade office.Please be aware that, due to the volume of applicants, we ask that you do not contact the office to inquire about the status of your application.
  10. What is the Selection Process?
    • All complete applications will be reviewed by our selection committee. Following the initial review, all applicants will receive an email notification informing them whether or not they have been invited to the interview stage of the application process.
    • Applicants selected for an interview will be invited to schedule interviews in March. Following the interviews, 12 youth and 2 adult finalists will be selected and notified. Alternates for both youth participants and adult mentors will also be chosen.
    • All applicants who attended the interviews will be notified, whether or not they have been selected, by April 1, 2016.
  11. How much does the program cost?
    • The Youth Ambassadors Program is is a program of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, administered by Amizade Global Service-Learning.  The program is fully funded and there is NO cost to apply or to participate in the program.