How Youth Ambassadors Changed My Life

Nieves Abreu, 2014 Venezuelan Youth Ambassador

Partners of the Americas’ Youth Ambassadors program was much more than just a simple trip; I grew, I was challenged, and succeeded in more ways than I ever thought I could. It was the first time I got on a plane, traveled outside of my country, interacted with deaf students and above all my first time representing my country abroad. 

Not only did I learn about other cultures, countries, and people, but I also learned the importance of leadership, teamwork, and voluntary service. I met a lot of important people in all the places that I went to, from the youth that traveled with me to even the security guard we met on the metro in Washington, DC. Each one of them showed me kindness and left me with wonderful memories.

A few specific people transformed this trip for me, however: Alexandra and Luis, two deaf students I traveled with, Maria Antonieta and Dayana, the sign language interpreters, and Gerardo and Tatiana, our translators and interpreters. Generally when you hear about exchange programs, people talk about the places that they went to, or what they learned, but they never tell you that “I was in a cultural exchange program and I got the opportunity to meet and learn a little more about deaf students” or “I learned how to say my name in sign language!"

Because of my experience as a Partners’ Youth Ambassador, however, I have these memories, and because of them I realized that I have a lot more to learn. There are people with disabilities that are easy to recognize, but in the end there are many that have disabilities that we do not recognize.

I would like to thank Gallaudet University, the Abraham Lincoln Monument, the leadership workshops, the dinner at Ben’s Chili Bowl, my host family in Johnson City, Tennessee, and the secondary school that I worked at, along with countless other places and people, for making me a different person in the three weeks I spent in the U.S. I am grateful for my experience with the Venezuelan Youth Ambassadors 2014 program.