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 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 July 2017, will be the Youth Ambassadors from Western Pennsylvania and Northern West Virginia traveling to Peru. This will be followed by the South American Youth Ambassadors from Peru traveling to the United States in Fall 2017.
In addition to the youth participants, each program will also include Adult Mentors. For more information about Adult Mentor positions and how to apply, visit amizade.org/program/adult-mentors/
For more information, and to apply to be a Youth Ambassador from Peru, visit Awamaki's page here: awamaki.org/apply
Peru Exchange, Summer 2016
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
While in Pittsburgh, 20 Youth Ambassadors and 4 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.
For more information about applying to be a Youth Ambassador from Peru, please contact:
Laura Brokaw: Laurab@awamaki.org (in Peru), Apply to be a Youth Ambassador from Peru here: awamaki.org/applyHosting a Youth Ambassador in your home in Pittsburgh is a great way to bring cross-cultural friendship and learning to your family and community. Hosting is a fun and unique way for you and your family to learn about a new culture and share your family, community, and traditions with a young person from Bolivia or Peru.
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!
Eligibility and Time Commitment
be at least 15 years old and not more than 18 years old at the time of the exchange (summer 2017)
have at least one more semester of high school following the program (a graduation year of 2018 or later)
have permission from either a parent or legal guardian to participate in the three-week program to Peru
hold US Citizenship
What is the criteria for selection?
a demonstrated interest in and commitment to volunteer and civic activities
ability to work cooperatively in diverse groups and tolerate the opinions of others
good social and communication skills
an energetic, positive attitude
commitment to implementing community project following exchange.
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. Youth Ambassadors must:
Participate in 3 of 4 mandatory pre-departure meetings between April and June, 2016.
Actively engage in all workshops and activities during the summer exchange to Peru.
Complete a Community Action Project in their home community during the fall and winter of 2017-18.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
What are the dates of the program?
The US Youth Ambassadors will travel to Peru in summer 2017. The tentative dates are July 2- 27, 2017. 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 2017. The tentative dates are October 16- November 11, 2017. However, please note that these dates are subject to change depending on flight availability.
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.
I'm only 14 years old now, but I'll be 15 in July 2017, can I still apply?
Yes. As long as you will be between 15 and 18 during the exchange (July 2017) you are eligible to apply.
I'm 17 years old, but I will graduate from high school in 2017, can I still apply?
No. You must have at least 1 semester of high school remaining following the program in order to complete your Community Action Project.
Who should I contact if I have any questions about the application or program?
Contact Sara Noel or Bridget Mullins at Amizade, 412-586-4986 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about the application or the program. Please do NOT contact the U.S. Embassy with your questions.
Can siblings apply to the Youth Ambassadors Program?
Yes, siblings can apply.
Can parents of 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.
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.
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.
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.
How do I learn more and apply to be a Youth Ambassador?