It always starts with an exchange. Through exchange and fellowship programs, Partners of the Americas provides individuals and organizations the opportunity to connect across borders, serve new communities, and ultimately change their life and the lives of others. Over the past 50 years, Partners has used exchanges as a tool to build projects and sustain those projects over time, to leverage contributions from local organizations, to connect people and link them to new opportunities, and to help individuals and organizations build new skills and share knowledge, ultimately allowing them to work better and scale their impact.
Eating is an agricultural act. The link between food and culture has been always present. How we pick and mix ingredients, their origin and seasonality define human behavior, helping sculpt culture. In recent years, advanced urbanization and globalization are pushing people away from the origin of their food and creating a gap between it and culture.
Edited and Published by: Pamela Picon, Intern, Partners of the Americas
Foreword by: Abraham Cisne, Senior Program Officer, Youth Engagement
Partners is proud to highlight that last year´s Youth Ambassadors (YA) program funded by the U.S. State Department was an enormous success, including challenging innovations and involving Partners chapters that haven´t hosted in a long time. The 2014 YA program involved 45 very competitively selected participants from both Venezuela and Colombia who, after a week in Washington, DC, were hosted in three states: Arkansas, Tennessee and Florida. Youth participants ages 15-17 were selected through a process that considered merit, limited income and no previous travel abroad. The program focused on leadership, service/volunteerism, mutual understanding, and long-term engagement. Its sub themes included the environment and public safety.
Partners’ Youth Ambassadors Program, a U.S. State Department sponsored cultural exchange program, brings together youths of limited means and/or with limited international experience, ages 15-18, to build understanding among countries, increase leadership skills, and prepare them to be positive agents of change through volunteer service. In 2012, eleven Guyanese youth and two adult Guyanese mentors participated in the program. While in the U.S., they were engaged with local government and civic organizations, built relationships with host families and youths, and participated in skills-based training that enabled and empowered them to mobilize their communities towards positive change. The youth were empowered to build mutual understanding among countries, enhance leadership skills, be conscious minded, expose themselves to cultures in and out of the country, work and relate with each other, be positive agents of change through volunteer service and replicate what they have learned.
I’ve been a member of the Partners of the Americas’ family since my participation on the Youth Ambassadors program in spring 2010-- five years ago. By that time I had just turned fifteen, and I was a junior in High School in Caracas, Venezuela. Now it’s been almost two years since I’ve been living and studying at university in Montpellier, in the south of France.
Give a young person the chance to travel, and they’ll likely never be the same. I saw this firsthand in the conversations I had with former Youth Ambassadors (YA) and YouthLead SENA participants in a recent 10-day trip to Colombia focusing on productive work meetings with stakeholders such as the U.S. Embassy, Partners Chapters, Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje (SENA), Universidad del Norte and other schools.
I arrived in Indianapolis on a warm morning on Sunday, September 28th. I remembered that morning. I was anxious because everything there was new for me. In my first week, I stayed with former U.S. Legislative Fellow, Aaron Short, and his wife Sarah and their daughter Cheyenne, who made me feel a part of their nice family. I shared beautiful moments with these great people, I learned about their ideas, feelings and beliefs, and I think they learned about my way of thinking too. Interacting with them that week and the rest of my trip was special. They gave me the possibility of trying different kinds of dishes like chili soup, flat bread pizza, and delicious desserts! They made a bonfire for me on my first weekend and invited their Latinos friends, just to give me a warm welcome. I tried the famous s'mores for the first time and I really loved them! Chocolate with marshmallow is a great mix!
Professsor Rosaly Benchimol, who taught at the University of Amazonas and contributed many years of service to the Amazonas Chapter of Partners, passed away on January 17. Professor Benchimol was a leader in the business community of Manaus. She was a founding member of an association of businesswomen in that city and helped the organization to grow.
It's been approximately five years since I came out to myself as a gay man. It was precisely during my masters studies in the United States, when I was first exposed to a truly open and diverse environment, that I was able to overcome all of my fears and hesitations to admit it. Because of this, when I first learned about the Legislative Fellows Program run by Partners of the Americas, I was doubtful of the impact that this program could have in my personal and professional life, since I'd already “lived the American experience”.