One of the components of working in citizen diplomacy that I love the most is the extensive, supportive community that this organization is a part of. Challenging weeks are so much easier to get through, knowing that there is a nation-wide network of people who understand exactly what you’re going through.
Which is why I was so excited when IREX announced that, in preparation for YLAI 2023, they were inviting all host cities throughout the U.S. to Washington D.C. for a two-day orientation event.
YLAI, or the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative Program, is a fellowship program sponsored by the U.S. State Department for entrepreneurs from across the Americas. The San Diego Diplomacy Council have been local implementers of this incredible program for several years, and we are so excited to be joining the 2023 cohort of host cities. You can find more about YLAI, and the national host organization, IREX, here.
Some highlights from the orientation include:
- Connecting with people! Whether it was the supportive IREX staff welcoming us to their office, reconnecting with other colleagues in the Global Ties network, or meeting representatives from entrepreneurial ecosystems around the country, I was bolstered by the opportunity to meet a community of great people doing great things for citizen diplomacy
- Staying in the Hamilton Hotel, which was within walking distance of the National Mall (a bonus I took advantage of on Friday afternoon to visit the Smithsonian Museum of American History)
- The delicious, and thoughtfully curated food we enjoyed while onsite at the IREX office
Some valuable lessons I learned are:
- A reminder of the guiding principles of YLAI, which serve as excellent life principles too. These are: Care and Consideration, Integrity, Inclusion, Learning, and Social Responsibility
- The value of asset framing when cultivating an inclusive and welcoming environment
- Differentiating a solution pitch (presenting that the best possible solution to a challenge has been identified), and a business pitch (presenting a business idea)
- Don’t underestimate the power of your weaving a network of relationships – Key #4 from Roshan Paul. For more information, read his book, “The New Reason to Work: How to Build a Career That Will Change the World“
Some key takeaways I’m looking to implement moving forward:
- Continuing to find stellar fellowship placement organizations for the 2023 YLAI cohort. If you’re interested in working with a fellow, or connecting with the network, send me an email; firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ensuring that we are cultivating a safe and inclusive environment for our YLAI fellows and the involved San Diego community
- Preparing to gather as many stories, images, and adventures of the YLAI 2023 experience as I can, to share with the San Diego Diplomacy Council community. If you want to stay updated, make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter.
Thank you to the wonderful IREX team for being so thoughtful, considerate, and proactive! We are ready to give the 2023 YLAI fellows a lifechanging experience while in the United States.
Keep an eye out for the announcement of San Diego’s cohort of YLAI fellows, coming soon.
Interested in hosting a fellow, or being involved in YLAI? Send an email to email@example.com for details.
Written By Program Officer, Lulu Bonning
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