The ‘American dream’ came true for 20 young students from Southern Italy who departed for the United States on August 23 for a three-week exchange program. The 2016 Youth Leadership Program (YLP), coordinated by the U.S. Consulate General in Naples in partnership with Indiana University and the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, is focused on the ongoing migration crisis in Europe.
Students are currently sharing their experiences with American counterparts on immigration and integration issues, and have been asked to develop a “big idea” to positively impact their communities. They will experience home hospitality and engage in leadership workshops, community service activities, visits to local schools and community organizations, project planning and development, and local cultural activities with American peers. Participants will return home with action plans to bring their exchange experience to their home communities in the form of a wide range of community service projects. In the program’s first week, they attended an interactive learning event at Harmony School, their first hands-on project. They also had the opportunity to discuss immigration issues with Indiana University graduate students who are part of ‘Bloomington against Islamophobia’ and who drafted a resolution to protest the Indiana governor’s actions to withhold support from Syrian refugees. The students will return to Italy on September 18, 2016.