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08.17.2016

Next Generation of Leaders Convene for Global Youth Ambassadors Summit 

Next Generation of Leaders Convene for Global Youth Ambassadors Summit 

Program encourages young women to become active leaders in their communities

GYALS1Chicago Sister Cities International (CSCI) and the University of Illinois at Chicago recently hosted the inaugural Global Youth Ambassadors Leadership Summit July 23-30.

The Summit aims to help grow a new generation of global leaders. The one week summer intensive program for girls ages 14-16 encourages young women to become active leaders in their communities and develop solutions to the challenges girls face around the world.

Nine Chicago students participated in the Summit: six from Benito Juarez Community Academy, one from Robert Lindblom Math & Science Academy, one from Jones College Prep, and one from Holy Trinity High School. They were joined by eleven international students from Chicago’s sister cities: Birmingham, United Kingdom; Bogotá, Colombia; Durban, South Africa; Lucerne, Switzerland; Mexico City, Mexico; Paris, France; and Toronto, Canada.

GYALS3The Summit is an opportunity for the girls to meet their peers from around the world; share issues that are of concern to them; participate in self-advocacy, activism and leadership-development workshops; and meet with distinguished women in leadership positions.

The participants met women leaders in Chicago representing a diverse cross-section of fields. The leaders shared their thoughts and discussed their path to success. Speakers included Jessica Droste Yagan of Impact Engine, Gabrielle Buckley and Margo W. O’Donnell of Vedder Price, Tracy Baim of Windy City Media Group, Amy Guth of the Association of Women Journalists Chicago, Maril MacDonald of Gagen MacDonald, Karyn Pettigrew of Fashion Fair, Cheryl Burton of ABC 7 Chicago, Anne Pramaggiore of ComEd, and Deputy Mayor of Chicago Andrea Zopp.

Panel discussions and workshops focused on self-empowerment and activism. Sessions included a workshop for personal storytelling with Monica Trinidad; advocacy discussions with Brian Stahulak and Maria Rivera of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health; a tour of 1871 with a focus on girls in STEM; project work at the YouMedia Learning Space at the Harold Washington Library Center; a workshop with Global Girls, Inc.; a workshop with Assata’s Daughters; a panel presentation on activism with Maria Pesqueira of Mujeres Latinas en Acción and Tanya Cabrera & Veronica Arreola of the University of Illinois at Chicago; and a panel discussion with Orla Mc Breen, Consul General of Ireland to the U.S. Midwest, and Vuyiswa Tulelo, Consul General of South Africa in Chicago.

GYALS2Summit participants also explored Chicago and learned about its history and culture. They visited neighborhoods including the Near West Side, Streeterville, River North, the South Loop, Chinatown, the Loop, Hyde Park, Pilsen, and Greek Town. They also visited Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, Keith House, Chicago Women’s Park and Garden, the DuSable Museum of African American History, the National Museum of Mexican Art, Navy Pier, Chicago Public Media, Lyric Opera of Chicago, WGN Radio, Tribune Tower, ABC 7, Millennium Park, and took a Chicago River Architecture boat tour.

On the final day, Summit participants delivered group presentations at Chicago City Hall Council Chambers, where Chicago Deputy Mayor Andrea Zopp spoke to them. Participants had a week-long project where they were asked to explore the question, “What does it mean to be a strong, confident girl in your society?” They presented their projects through video, spoken word, testimonials, and slides.

GYALS4The Summit was inspired by Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn initiative. CSCI shares the belief with the Obama Administration that “a girl with an education can shape her own destiny, lift up her family, and transform her community.” The next Global Youth Ambassador Summit will be held in July of 2017. For more information on how to get involved as a sponsor or a participant, visit ChicagoSisterCities/GlobalYouthAmbassadors.

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