Young Ambassadors Program- Smithsonian Latino Center
From June 23rd to June 29th, the Center hosted the 2013 Young Ambassadors Program Washington Week experience. This year’s program included 22 students from 11 states and Puerto Rico and 8 program support staff comprised of returning Young Ambassadors alumni. The week-long intensive seminar is aligned to the Smithsonian’s four grand challenges and includes informal one-on-one conversations, behind-the-scenes experiences, hands-on workshops each day of the week, and a group leadership development project. Highlights of the 2013 Washington Week included an engaging conversation regarding contemporary Latino communities with Alberto Ferreras, Maria Agui Carter, Adrian Carrasquillo, and Viviana Hurtado, a one-on-one conversation about space exploration and the new frontier with Dr. Franklin Chang-Díaz, conversations regarding the Smithsonian Folklife Festival with Sojin Kim, and a curator talks with Dr. E. Carmen Ramos and artist Scherezade Garcia of the upcoming Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art exhibition, and with Dr. Alex Benitez of Cerámica de los Ancestros. The hands-on workshops, ranging from exhibition design and new media (video making and social media outreach) as tools for representation of communities and cultures, to mammal habit observation at the zoo, to spoken word workshops with Carlos Contreras, and Mars community design challenge, allowed the students to engage in projects that explored different disciplines, honing 21st century skills such as team work, communication, critical thinking, and media creation and usage, while at the same time exposing them to the breadth of Latino contributions in the arts, sciences, and humanities. The week was highly successful and allowed the Center to promote higher education and 21st century skills and foster pride in the Latino community. As one student stated, “the week-long experience was a mind-blowing realization of our abilities and purpose.” Participants are now back in their local communities participating in a four-week internship and community outreach experience as part of the five-week program experience.
As part of the Washington Week experience, each Young Ambassador will participate in a group project to develop 21st century skills in leadership, teamwork, and critical thinking skills. The project development will provide hands-on experiences and discussion time for the participants. The goal of the project is to represent a theme in the Latino cultural fabric (arts, sciences, or humanities) within the context of a festival being by the Smithsonian Institution. The final product should be a dynamic proposal that may include visual aides and provides an overview of the theme presented, information about the proposed participants, target age range, proposed program flow, and a narrative of how the presenters or project proposed address the questions and themes below. Please include any budgetary information available. The goal of the project is to have the Young Ambassadors apply some of the “lessons learned” during the week to develop a representation of the Latino culture utilizing all their skills in addressing the themes presented. Finally, each group will document their Washington Week experience. The group will use the Washington Week activities to create a short video clip (maximum two minutes) on the group’s point of view on 21st Century Latino Identity. This video can also be as part of a proposed marketing or social media campaign for your festival.
Written by Emily Key