Maighdlin Shaughnessy, daughter of Tim and Lu Shaughnessy of Stillwater, will visit Belize from July 10 and Aug. 7 as part of the Youth Ambassadors program.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for me to broaden my understanding of foreign affairs," said Maighdlin Shaughnessy.
Maighdlin, or "Maddii", is part of a group of 10 youths and one adult mentor from across the country that will meet in Washington, D.C., for a week before traveling to Belize for three weeks.
In their host country the Youth Ambassadors will learn about local cultures, leadership and community service, and upon return, will serve their home communities through volunteer projects. The youths will also interact with local peers in their host families, schools and community service sites giving them the opportunity to share their culture with local youth.
Maighdlin is a three-year member of the National Honor Society and her leadership ability is best exemplified in her efforts as a three-year member of the Stillwater Area High School Student Council.
"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m excited to develop my leadership skills, thereby strengthening my ability to serve my Stillwater area communities," Maddii said.
The Youth Ambassadors were selected in an open competition of youths between 15 and 18 years old who have outstanding school records, display leadership qualities and have demonstrated interests in improving their local community. The Youth Ambassadors program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs and the U.S. Embassies and Consulates in participating countries, and is administrated by Partners of the Americas.
The Youth Ambassadors program was started in 2002 to build mutual understanding among youth in the United States and Latin America and the Caribbean. It has since expanded into a leadership program for youth and their peers. Youths spend the three weeks abroad engaging with local government and civic organizations, building relationships with host families and other youth, visiting schools, and participating in skills-based trainings that enable and empower them to mobilize their communities towards positive change. Upon returning to the U.S., youth use what they learned throughout the exchange to design and implement service projects that benefit their communities.