Once a Youth Ambassador, Always a Youth Ambassador

Maria Laura Sánchez, Partner's Youth Ambassador 2010

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.    

Ever since I went to the first meeting for the YA application procedure in Caracas, I knew I was starting something that would last much more than a three-week exchange. When I got on that flight to Washington DC – it was my first time on an airplane -- I felt that I was taking the first step on a very new and challenging path. 

The Youth Ambassadors program gave me the tools to see the world bigger, to wish it to be better and mostly to understand that I can be the change. 

As I came back to Caracas after being in the U.S. visiting several political and non-profit organizations, living with a host family in Tennessee, and assisting the Science Hill High School with my host sister and YA colleagues, I started to work on a social project called “Encuadérnate”, along with Carmen Zuloaga, María Valentina Lugo (YA’s 2010 as well), our mentor Jaroslav Perdomo and the guide of the Compañeros de Venezuela’s team. “Encuadérnate” is a social and environmental caring program which consists of collecting recyclable paper to be sold to a local recycling industry and with this money buying school material: paper, notebooks and handcraft materials, to be given to children from low-resource schools.  

Almost two years ago now, I took another flight, this time headed to France. After a couple years of studying French everyday after school, I started looking for possibilities of studying abroad in France. Now I’m living a new youth ambassador experience: every time I say I come from Venezuela I feel like an ambassador and I’m so glad to now see it like this. Here in France I live with a French roommate. We both attend the “Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture” of Montpellier. The school welcomes foreign students just as French ones and holds a very large international exchange program that creates a multicultural environment.