Exchange Matters / September 16, 2021

The Leadership Corner – September 2021

By Katherine Brown, Ph.D., President & CEO, Global Ties U.S.

Group of 75 Youth Ambassadors in navy blue uniforms in front of the US Capitol

The USA Pavilion Youth Ambassadors pose in front of the United States Capitol Building.

We are thrilled to have finally announced the Youth Ambassador cohort for the USA Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. After an intensive selection process, this cohort comprises 75 adults who will bring a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, and voices to their work as guides and representatives at the USA Pavilion.  

The USA Pavilion Youth Ambassadors program is a longstanding and central element of U.S. participation at World Expos and a premiere international exchange opportunity. Since 1985, more than 600 young U.S. citizens have served as Youth Ambassadors at World Expos, helping to prepare them for careers in international diplomacy, business, academia, and other forms of public service. Many have gone on to have successful, globally-focused careers in education and the private sector, while others continue to serve our nation in government, including at the U.S. Department of State and elected state offices.  

Global Ties U.S. designed and implemented a grassroots recruitment campaign, tapping 24 of our Community-Based Members in 21 states to help identify the “Faces of America.” We received nearly 700 applications for 75 positions—a selection rate of 11%, which is extraordinarily competitive. We’re proud to have delivered the most diverse cohort of Youth Ambassadors on record, representing 46 states and the District of Columbia, speaking 24 languages collectively, and encompassing professional and academic experience in a wide array of fields, from political science and economics to engineering and landscape design. Members of the cohort have worked to address global issues like the refugee crisis and immigration, climate change, and the rise of terrorism and extremism.  

They will serve as guides to the USA Pavilion with the theme, “Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of the Future.” Under the leadership of USA Pavilion Commissioner General Robert “Bob” Clark, the Pavilion will showcase our country’s innovations, ideas, and contributions that are helping to build a brighter tomorrow. As the “Faces of America,” the Youth Ambassadors will share knowledge of the United States through their own backgrounds and experiences to visitors from around the world, often in those visitors’ native languages. They are in a unique position to form connections with millions of visitors, many of whom may never travel to the United States.  

USA Pavilion Commissioner General Bob Clark, center, with Youth Ambassadors at a pre-departure welcome reception in Washington, DC.

We’re grateful to our Community-Based Members, who have been instrumental in ensuring that the USA Pavilion is represented by a dynamic, diverse cohort of young U.S. citizens who reflect the bright promise of our country. This project has not been easy, especially since Expo 2020 Dubai is happening during a global pandemic. We’re grateful also to our partners to ensure that we’re sending them into a safe environment where their health is paramount. We look forward to updating you on the project’s progress, while also providing more opportunities to connect this world-class public diplomacy platform to your communities across the country.