Assistant Secretary Royce Visits Local Students Participating in the Stevens Initiative Virtual Exchange Program

February 7, 2019

Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce met with students participating in the Stevens Initiative virtual exchange program at Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC) in Middletown, Virginia on February 4.

The group is participating in the International Research and Exchanges Board’s Global Solutions Challenge, which brings together students from six community colleges in the U.S. and three schools in Jordan. In teams, they developed technology-based solutions to environmental issues affecting tourism and hospitality industries within their respective countries. LFCC and its partner school Khawarizmi College in Amman, Jordan – which also attended the meeting remotely – decided on the proper disposal of plastic bottles for their project.

The goal of the project is to incentivize recycling plastic bottles. Working virtually via Skype and Facebook, they created a business plan and developed the idea for a machine called the “Bottlebot.” The machine will compact plastic water bottles which can then be sold to companies that can use the plastic in building materials. Those who recycle the bottles will receive money or coupons.

The LFCC-Khawarizmi College joint team, calling themselves Agents of Change, were selected as finalists for the challenge in December, and will present their product at the Global Solutions Summit in March in Washington, D.C. Some of the Jordanian students will be in attendance.

The project affords students a very unique opportunity to work collaboratively on solutions to challenges within their community, compelling them to think globally when addressing local concerns.

The Global Solutions Sustainability Challenge is supported by the Stevens Initiative, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and administered by the Aspen Institute.

The Stevens Initiative was launched in 2015 to continue the legacy of U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and provides opportunity for American youth to connect with students in the Middle East and North Africa. The program builds career skills and enhances global knowledge through virtual exchanges.

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