Seventy-seven Mexican high school students returned to their homeland this month after an exchange program visit to the United States. To welcome them back, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Anthony Wayne presided over a ceremony August 10 in Mexico City.
This year’s group is the third generation of Jóvenes en Acción, [Youth in Action] a leadership training and exchange program for Mexican public high school students who have demonstrated a commitment to community service.
During their five weeks in the United States, the students participated in teambuilding, leadership, and English classes in Brattleboro, Vermont and developed the themes of their community projects. Students spent two weeks with host families and volunteering with local NGOs in Baltimore, Chicago, Charlotte, Cleveland and Seattle.
“Youth exchange programs like Jóvenes en Acción strengthen people-to-people relationships, improve mutual understanding, and form part of the Embassy’s strategy to increase educational exchanges as part of President Obama’s 100,000 Strong in the Americas Initiative,” Ambassador Wayne said. “I believe in the promise that young people hold. You are the future leaders and innovators, and Jóvenes en Acción is an investment in both your individual futures and in the future of our society.”
Elena Verdugo, Senior Advisor at Mexico’s Under Secretariat for Middle Education, urged the youths to, "commit to being involved citizens, and to strengthening the relationship with the United States."
Ambassador Cecilia Jaber, Director General for Educational and Cultural Cooperation of Mexico’s Secretariat of Foreign Relations, remarked that the program has planted a seed of continous self improvement in the youths, and added that "their contact with U.S. society has left an imprint of what we are in Mexico, and the commitment of our youths to facing challenges."
For his part, Gustavo Lara, Director of the BBVA Foundation, stated that "Jóvenes en Acción is one of the best social investments that we can make."
The U.S. and Mexican governments and the private sector provide the funding for Jóvenes en Acción.
The U.S. Embassy and its consulates will follow up with these outstanding students throughout the academic year, providing support and mentorship as they implement their community projects.
As Juan Gamez Vazquez, grantee of the program noted: "we were strangers who became family, we are a group that wants to make a difference, we are the Youth in Action!"