Nathaly Rivera Victoria, a Colombian alumna of the 2008 Youth Ambassadors Program, is the December International Exchange Alumni Member of the Month. This honor recognizes Nathaly’s leadership in mobilizing her peers to tackle Latin America’s most pressing issues.
Nathaly signed up for the Youth Ambassadors Program so that she could share her Colombian culture and also learn about other cultures. She came away from the program energized to encourage volunteerism in her home community. “Returning to my country is only the beginning of this wonderful and unforgettable experience,” says Nathaly. “I am excited by the idea that through both my work and that of others, we will promote the spirit of participation in projects that help develop and make our country better. To be a part of this change and to inspire others to play a part as well should be the mission of each Youth Ambassador, if not of everyone.”
Nathaly wasted no time promoting this “spirit of participation.” In the summer after her program, she mobilized the support of a women’s organization and the mayor of her community to carry out a campaign to raise awareness among hundreds of local residents about the environmental impacts of careless waste disposal. She later implemented a similar campaign for students at her local high school.
In 2009, Nathaly worked with a fellow alumnus to co-found Youth Colombian Leaders (YCL). YCL unites young leaders who share the desire to confront Colombia’s major social problems and increase youth participation in community service projects. At the same time, the group uses these projects to develop the leadership skills and build the capacity of their group members. Since its founding, the group has carried out projects ranging from leadership workshops to donation drives for disadvantaged youth. In 2013, YCL will launch a project that brings together Youth Ambassador alumni from all over Colombia to partner with other organizations on a nationwide project to promote English as a second language.
Nathaly has also been invited to participate in several regional and global youth conferences such as the Fifth Summit of The Americas and the II Global Youth Volunteer Summit. These opportunities have allowed her to share best practices and develop partnerships with her peers. As a result of one of these conferences, Nathaly is currently working with fellow alumni to develop the International Youth Ambassador Network by supporting the creation of a national Youth Ambassadors network in Colombia. This initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and Partners of the Americas, will allow Nathaly and fellow Youth Ambassador alumni to leverage their network and expertise and continue to make a difference in their world.
Each month, the Bureau’s Alumni Affairs Division, which supports alumni as they build on their exchange experiences, recognizes one outstanding alumnus or alumna. Throughout December, Nathaly Rivera Victoria will be recognized on the International Exchange Alumni website, ECA’s official website for the more than one million Department-sponsored exchange alumni worldwide.