Louise Zeng, 16, of Missouri City is one of 10 youths traveling to Washington, D.C., for one week and onward to Colombia for three weeks as part of Partners of the Americas’ U.S. Youth Ambassadors (YA) program, taking place in July.
The 10 youths, accompanied by an adult mentor, will spend the three weeks abroad engaging with local government and civic organizations, building relationships with host families and other youths, visiting schools, and participating in skills-based workshops that empower them to mobilize their communities toward positive change.
Upon returning to the United States, youths apply what they learned throughout the exchange to designing and implementing a service project that benefits their communities.
This year’s U.S. YA competition was open to youths between the ages of 15 and 17 in Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, Wyoming, Tennessee, Texas and Washington, D.C. Participants were selected through a competitive merit and need-based process, including school records, displayed leadership qualities, and demonstrated interest in improving their local community.
Zeng is an incoming junior in the Math and Science Academy at John Foster Dulles High School. She found out about the program through an email from Partners of the Americas.
“This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to share my love for Texas and the United States, experience life and culture in Latin America first-hand, and grow in my leadership skills is a dream come true for me,” she said. “I’m so excited to cultivate friendships from across the globe, especially with other teenagers who are as passionate as I am about helping others, and I’m even more excited to take what I learn and apply it so I can better serve my community.”
The YA program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and is implemented by Partners of the Americas. Through the program, Partners of the Americas aims to strengthen mutual understanding, awareness, and cooperation between the U.S. and Colombia by promoting and developing interaction between these two countries. The youths will realize their potential to promote positive changes in their own communities both now and in the future.
Above all, the program is meant to be an educational experience. Partners of the Americas intends to present a more complete image of Colombia than international media typically depicts in order to inform a demographic that will possibly influence future relations between the two countries.
The mission of Partners of the Americas is to connect people and organizations across borders to serve and to change lives through lasting partnerships. The partnerships create opportunity, foster understanding, and solve real-life problems.
Inspired by President Kennedy and founded in 1964 under the Alliance for Progress, Partners is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization with international offices in Washington, DC. Learn more at www.partners.net or via Twitter @partnersamerica.
At Dulles High School, Zeng is the founder of Miracle Club, a club dedicated to raising funds and awareness for hospitalized children.
This spring, she led members in fundraising and planning Vikingthon, a joyful, hope-bringing dance marathon where students danced in honor and support of the kids, ultimately raising over $2,346 for Texas Children’s Hospital.
She also serves as event chair in Girl Up Houston, and has helped organize a benefit concert, a walk for girls’ education, a feminine product drive, a clothing drive, and more, raising over $10,000 total. Zeng enjoys learning all she can about business in DECA, creating innovative solutions to global issues in Future Problem Solving, and competing internationally in both.
In addition, she loves to spend time volunteering with little kids, and has served in her church’s children’s program both as an AWANA leader and as the kindergarten director.