Central American Youth Ambassador Program
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 U.S. Department of State. The program provides the opportunity to experience local culture, society, and education, and increase mutual understanding among peoples of the Americas.
CAYA is divided into two programs. The incoming program brings 30 Central American participants (youth and mentors) to the U of I and the outgoing program sends 3 youths and a mentor from Idaho to Central America.
Use the drop-downs to explore additional information about this program.
The International Program Office at the U of I 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 U of I, the Center for Intercultural Education and Development (CIED) at Georgetown University and is funded by the U.S. 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 U of I, 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 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 U of I 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
CAYA builds on the successful partnership U of I International Programs has fostered with Georgetown University's Center for International Education and Development and the U.S. Department of State to deliver innovative academic, cultural and community outreach programs for emerging student leaders from around the world. The ambassadors were selected based on their leadership skills, school/community involvement and entrepreneurship spirit.
Ambassadors travel first to Washington D.C. where they will receive an orientation to the program, tour the capital and learn more about what is to be a U.S. ambassador. From there, they journey to Nicaragua and Panama. The CAYA program focus on community development, leadership and entrepreneurship contributing to students’ multicultural learning experiences and preparing them to be future leaders and entrepreneurs. CAYA builds bonds of friendship between young Americans and peoples from Central American. Participants visited the US embassies, schools, national parks and stayed with local host families. CAYA’s goal is to broaden students’ knowledge of culture, society and education.
Quotes from 2013 participants
Impressions before the trip
Over the course of my travels, I will have many new first experiences. Traveling to this part of the world is something entirely new to me, and I am very excited to be exposed to the climates and cultures of Nicaragua and Panama. I also expect a large amount of culture shock and the challenges that come with being so far from home in such foreign places. However, I will do my best to leave with them a genuine impression of the US through my representation and knowledge of the place I come from," noted Tasha Paul. "It's a wonderful opportunity and something that Tasha would not get to experience on the same level if she were not traveling as a youth ambassador," added her mother, Marcy Paul.
Jacob Rose wants to share aspects of his culture with the new friends he plans to meet south of the border. "I do expect to make relationships that will impact my life from there on out... I want to express that we are a nation of many different backgrounds but that we are unified under our common beliefs and even more so by our differing ones." His parents are also thrilled he is having this opportunity. "My parents could not be more proud... They too feel honored by my acceptance into this wonderful program."
Impressions after the trip
"During our stay in Nicaragua, we had the opportunity to visit a local coffee plantation, which happened to be located on a volcano, Volcán Casita. After arriving at the base of the volcano, we met up with the Access students from Nicaragua and started the ascent. The Access Program is a Department of State funded program that offers instructional English courses to students who have limited opportunities to learn English. The students could all speak English, so the two groups had no problems communicating with each other. Although the air was cool and the foliage provided some shade, we were perspiring quite a bit when we arrived at a small village, a destination that took approximately two hours to reach. There, we refreshed ourselves with an assortment of fruits, taking in the vibrant view that surrounded us before preparing to head off to see the coffee plantation." - Wilson Guo.
"In July of 2013, I was given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to Nicaragua and Panama for three weeks as a Central American Youth Ambassador. Being my first trip outside of the northwest United States, it was filled with new sights and experiences. In both countries, my fellow ambassadors and I did much of the same activities, including visiting schools and the American embassies, and touring various historical and geographical attractions. However, I was able to develop a distinct sense of the individual cultures in each place, mostly as a result of stepping out to meet the local people and genuinely interacting with them. From hiking Volcán Casita and picking pineapple straight from the fields in Nicaragua, to witnessing the action of the Panama Canal and visiting local businesses in Panama, this experience as a whole was filled with innumerable memories. Ultimately, it has taught me the importance of global relations, both on the national level and personal level."