Home » Industry » Welcome Program for Central America and Caribbean Youth Ambassadors

Good afternoon future presidents, entrepreneurs, diplomats, and other leaders!

I am very pleased to meet with you today as you embark on your Youth Ambassadors exchange program in the United States. One of the best parts of my job is getting to meet with young leaders like yourselves, who bring such passion and energy to improving communities, both locally and globally, and strengthening the people-to-people ties that help bind our many nations together.

For the nearly 400 Youth Ambassadors who participate in this program each year, my hope is simple � that you use this network to help each other in the years to come in achieving your goals for promoting civic education, community service, and youth leadership development.

Please remember that your network doesn't just encompass those in this room today; it includes all the Youth Ambassadors who have come before you and those who will follow. It also includes the many Americans you will meet over the course of the next three weeks who share your interests and goals and will be genuinely invested in your future success.

Like all of you, I am proud to serve my country. As a U.S. diplomat I have worked in Guatemala, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and here in Washington, D.C.

The Western Hemisphere has a special place in my heart.

From the northern reaches of Canada to the southern tip of Argentina, the United States is focused on partnering with our region's governments and citizens to advance four key objectives: 1) promoting education and development; 2) improving trade and economic opportunities; 3) supporting good governance and human rights; and 4) increasing citizen security and safety.

Among these goals, I am perhaps proudest of the great strides we have made together in advancing education and development across the hemisphere. A prime example is the 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative, launched in March 2011, which has increased the number of U.S. students studying in Latin America and the Caribbean by 20 percent and the number of students from the Americas studying in the United States by 24 percent. The linkages forged by connecting American students with their counterparts in the region are critical to our shared security and prosperity in today's interconnected world and will pay enormous dividends for us all for many years to come.

After you return to your home countries, we look forward to hearing about the important community service projects you will be pursuing and, later, to following your careers as you become activists, businesspeople, scientists, educators, and members of civic and political institutions. After meeting all of you here today, I know that the future of our region is a bright one.

Now, I am interested in hearing more about your experiences, learning from you, and answering your questions.

Thank you.

Source: U.S Department of State