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Interview with Vitoria Marques of Brazil Youth Ambassadors

by Karina Cabral
Original article printed in Portuguese at O Livre.
Photo Credits: O Livre.


An example in her community, Mato Grosso student wins exchange in the United States

 

Fifty students from Brazilian public schools were chosen by the US embassy in Brazil, among 23,000 applicants, to gain an exchange in the United States. Among them is Vitoria Lissa de Oliveira Marques, 18, a Mato Grossan from São José do Rio Claro (296 km from Cuiabá), an example in her community for her leadership and volunteerism.

The program that Vitória is participating in is called Young Ambassadors and was created in 2002. A success since 2010, it has been reproduced in all the countries of the Americas. Since the program began, 522 Brazilians have participated.

Vitoria always volunteered—at school, in the church, teaching English to children in a public school—but it was in 2016 that she signed up for the program for the first time.

“My mother had a fundamental role, because she was the one who made my pre-registration, without even telling me. I remember that, as the stages went by, I became more and more surprised and I reached the final, but I was not selected,” said the young woman.

In the first attempt, as a finalist she was given the opportunity to participate in another embassy program, the EIP (English Immersion USA Program), which takes the finalists of the Young Ambassadors to a week in Brasília, where they undergo a total immersion in American culture.

“We participate in lectures and classes on culture / history and other things in the United States, in partnership with Thomas Jefferson House. This gave me an incredible view of the United States and of Brazil itself, because it contains people from all over the country,” said Victoria.

Last year, Vitória tried again and went through the entire selection process, which includes a pre-registration, sending documents to prove the written application, and a written and an oral test.

The entire process is done by a partner institution, which in Mato Grosso is the State Secretary of Education (Seduc). In the end, four finalists per state are selected—and one of them gets the chance to go to the Young Ambassadors and the other three go to the EIP.

The program is for students aged 15 to 18, who are in high school, have a good command of the Portuguese language, do some kind of volunteer work and have never been to the United States. That is, this was the last year for Victoria, who is 18 and finished high school in 2017.

Fluent English is not a requirement, but it is necessary to be at a good level of the language in order to communicate in that country. Victoria never took lessons, she learned English alone.

She is currently awaiting the outcome of the Enem, as she intends to attend medicine. In the meantime, she will spend three weeks in the United States with the Young Ambassadors, attending leadership workshops, volunteer projects, meeting government officials and US community leaders and giving presentations on Brazil.

“I’m going to stay in Washington for a few days, and then I’ll be staying at an American family’s home in Louisville, Kentucky,” she said.

With the trip coming—she goes on Friday—the young woman said that her anxiety was “at a thousand”, especially regarding meeting the family that will host her. She believes that this experience will transform her future, giving her the opportunity to broaden her worldview and improve her English.

“It’s the realization of a dream, a result of commitment. I just have to be thankful,” she said.

 

Meet Some Iraqi Exchange Students Who Want To Change The World

Listen to the WFPL radio spot.

Thirteen exchange students from Iraq are in Louisville this week. The teenagers are part of the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program sponsored by the U.S. State Department. While they’re here, the students visit education institutions and attend workshops on youth activism.

They’ll go back to Iraq and work on a community project around an issue they’re passionate about.

I caught up with the students on their break at the Big Four Bridge. I talked to them about their projects, what they do for fun at home, and about misconceptions some may have about their country. Listen to what they had to say in the player above.

Roxanne Scott | wfpl.org
Ali Al_Behadili

“My project is about designing a dialogue group to inspire others about being more open-minded and celebrate the diversity. Because Iraq is so diverse. We have people from different backgrounds, different languages, different religions.” —Ali Al-Behadili, 16.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roxanne Scott | wfpl.org
Zainab Al-Hilfi

“Just to be honest I want to be a pilot. But my mother said no so I have to be a doctor. I don’t have an opinion about my life. It’s all about your parents, the community. And I will work on that, actually. Like, through doing some dialogue groups.” —Zainab Al-Hilfi, 16.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roxanne Scott | wfpl.org
Awab Abdulhadi Majid

“Here’s the thing: not all Iraqis are Arabs. Not all Arabs are Muslims. And not all Muslims are terrorists.” —Awab Abdulhadi Majid, 15.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article, written by Roxanne Scott, was reposted from WFPL News.

Events

Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program 2018

August 5 – 19, 2018


STILL SEEKING HOST FAMILIES FOR 7 STUDENTS!

Theme: Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)

Language: All students speak English

The Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP) brings English-speaking Iraqi secondary school students to the U.S. for a four-week summer exchange to explore themes of leadership development, civic rights and responsibilities, respect for diversity, and community engagement. The will be Louisville’s ELEVENTH cohort since the program’s inception in 2007!

Participants on this U.S. Department of State-funded program are between the ages of 15 and 17 and are recruited from all provinces in Iraq. Iraqi adult mentors who accompany the students are educators and/or community leaders who work with youth and have demonstrated an interest in promoting youth leadership and social development. Competitively-selected American students also join Iraqi participants in all U.S. activities.

The program continues after the U.S.-based exchange with follow-on activities in the participants’ home communities, including alumni activities focused on leadership development.

Host families needed!

Read what one of our host families had to say!

“As a three time host parent of students in this program I highly recommend this experience. Getting to know these children and follow them in their endeavors to better their communities back home is so rewarding. Our family has maintained contact with all of our children. They never cease to amaze. I am proud to be a part of fostering these relationships. I feel it is an important step for this and future generations.” – Kelly

 

Worried about transportation and logistics? World Affairs Council helps with that!

 

World Affairs Council Provides:

  • Professional and cultural programming
  • All necessary transportation to and from meetings
  • All in-home orientation for hosts
  • Orientation and cultural programming for visitors

Host Responsibilities:

  • Provide a private sleeping area (students may share rooms but need separate beds)
  • Include the guest(s) in breakfast and dinner
  • Share your city with them!

 

Contact Visitor Program Manager, Laura Duncan, for more information! [email protected] or (502) 561-5422 x2