Two Cherry Creek School District students and one teacher were selected to travel to Cambodia via the American Youth Leadership Program, managed by Colorado-based nonprofit Global Explorers. The program, which ran for three weeks this summer, is fully-funded by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ Youth Programs Division.
Students Christopher Quinn of Cherokee Trail High School and Mick Geraghty of Cherry Creek High School were chosen from 298 candidates after a rigorous nationwide application and interview process, while English teacher Danny Barocas of Overland High School was chosen from over 100 teacher candidates through a similar process.
The program brought together a group of 29 students and 5 teachers from diverse economic and ethnic backgrounds, representing eight states across the U.S.
The American Youth Leadership Program is a new program that is part of the U.S. Department of State’s efforts to offer American citizens different opportunities to learn about global issues through cross-cultural exchange.
The Cambodia program, managed by Global Explorers, emphasized the themes of environment, climate change, conservation and sustainable development. Like all Global Explorers programs, the Cambodia program goes far beyond a typical student exchange experience. The program challenged participants to think critically about our world and their role in it, and feel the empowerment that comes with an authentic, adventurous and educational cross-cultural experience.
The program follows a three-phase model: 1. preparatory learning, 2. international expedition, and 3. follow-up leadership action. Through all of these phases, students and teachers learn about Global Explorers’ core subject areas of leadership, service, science and culture through hands-on activities. The nonprofit organization strives to inspire curiosity and reflection, and ultimately encourage students to use the experience as a way to enhance their own lives and the lives of those around them.
“Thanks to the support of the U.S. Department of State, this program will transform the lives of students and educators of diverse backgrounds and abilities. We expect this cross-cultural experience to spark meaningful leadership initiatives at home and abroad when the students return as ambassadors for the American Youth Leadership program,” said David Shurna, executive director of Global Explorers.
While in Cambodia, the program participants took part in local home stays, visited the ancient sites of Angkor Wat and other temples, learned about modern and ancient Cambodian history and spent countless hours interacting and getting to know local communities. Participants strove to understand more about Cambodia than just the high-tourism areas by spending time volunteering in rural communities and attempting to understand the impact of recent history on individuals.
Students also received digital media and journalism skills training from Afar Media (www.afar.com
) and the Travel Channel (www.travelchannel.com
) so that they can bring their stories back home and share them with their home community and beyond.