Twenty-six Colombian rural youth leaders have come to Washington, DC, Minnesota and Texas during November 9-23, 2014.
This year’s participants, traveling with the YouthLead-SENA Program, were competitively selected from across Colombia by the sponsoring Colombian public higher eduction institute, SENA (Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje) and with support from the implementing organization, Partners of the Americas in Washington D.C. and the Minnesota Uruguay Partners in Minnesota.
The group consists of 24 SENA students and two SENA instructors. All were convened in Washington, D.C. for a week before travelling to their respective host states: Texas and Minnesota.Through the YouthLead-SENA, Partners of the Americas aims to strengthen mutual understanding, awareness, and cooperation between the people of the United States and Colombia.
By promoting and developing interaction between these two countries, youth realize their potential to promote positive changes in their communities through social entrepreneurship. The youth were hosted in homestays by volunteers around the St. Paul area. Minnesota has hosted 13 travelers from the group who are spending two weeks in Minnesota engaging with local government and civic organizations, building relationships with host families and other youth, visiting universities and participating in skills-based workshops that enable and empower them to mobilize their communities towards positive change.
Their itinerary has included visits with leaders from the MN Department of Agriculture, Chicano Latino Affairs Council, the Main Street Project, Latino Economic Development Center, Willmar Area Multicultural Business Center, the Weisman Art Museum, Cookie Cart, MN Youth Council, U of M Agricultural Dept, Normandale Community College, Agstar, and others.
In addition, the youth met with entrepreneurs to discuss business skill development that included: Jeff Heegard of Coco-Coworking and Collaborative, Rob Scarlett of Clearwater Layline, Grupo Avance, Medical Equipment Exporters, Hunter Scarlett Consulting, Tom Olson of TKO Wines and others.
Upon returning to the Colombia, youth use what they learned throughout the exchange to design and implement service projects that benefit their communities. The YouthLead-SENA participants were selected competitively for their outstanding academic performance , leadership qualities and a demonstrated interest in improving their local community through agricultural and rural entrepreneurial projects . YouthLead is sponsored by the Colombian government supported SENA (Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje) and implemented by Partners of the Americas.