The International Program Office at the University of Idaho will be welcoming twenty teens and four community leaders from Central America as a part of the Central America Youth Ambassador Program (CAYA) in March for a week. CAYA is a collaborative partnership between the University of Idaho, the Center for Intercultural Education and Development (CIED) at Georgetown University and is funded by the US Department of State. The program will provide the opportunity to experience the U.S. culture, society, and education, and increase mutual understanding among peoples of the Americas.
The participants are coming from Belize, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. CAYA participants will work in teams to create models for sustainable social entrepreneurship development, have an opportunity to interact with faculty and students from the University of Idaho, instructors from Vandal Innovation and Enterprise Works (VIEW) and students from Vandal Solutions. They will visit local businesses, including the Terragraphics Environmental Engineering, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories and Ferdinand’s Ice Cream to have a taste of the West: a huckleberry ice cream! Participants will also have an opportunity to engage with Moscow high school students on a number of cross-cultural and recreational activities. CAYA participants will be staying with local host families.
Community support for hosting these students has been very strong and includes local politicians, K-12, Moscow High School and university educators and administrators, business owners, Latin American families, active members in the Moscow Sister City program, Spanish programs and other local schools. The CAYA program started in 2010 and many families have repeatedly hosted students and still regularly communicate with them.
If you would like more information, please contact Lubia Cajas de Gliniewicz.
Highlights from participants in the CAYA program:
"We are both honored and excited to host such a select group of Central American students and community leaders," says Bob Neuenschwander, Associate Director of Study Abroad and Special Academic Programs. "The CAYA program will contribute to strengthening the University's leadership role in international education, research, training and cultural exchange."
David Barber, a previous host parent, commented: "In the car, pulling out of the SUB parking lot, I saw a little girl, holding her mother's hand and crying as they walked toward their car. I don't know their names, but clearly they had just left their CAYA student. The girl's face had all the pain of parting written all over it; the mother looked both sad and happy, knowing the value of the experience. There are good cries and bad cries, and this was a good cry, the kind you wish for your little girl, for anyone."
"John and I cannot tell you all how IMPRESSED we are with our "Nicaraguan daughter"; she is indeed a fine young woman! I think we wore her out last night after her long travel day from D.C. We await her coming to join us after this full day with CAYA. What a remarkable program. I have to say, 'WOW!'"
"My favorite lessons from my staying in Moscow were about the businesses, the culture, the people - everything was a great experience for me, especially seeing how people work together toward a more sustainable community." - Yolanda Gutierrez, from a previous CAYA program
"I liked the business classes and spending time with UI students, mentors and the high school students. I learned a lot about social entrepreneurship and want to go back to my community to make a difference." - Juan Pablo Narvaez from a previous CAYA program