Sister Cities International’s Youth Leadership Summit offers high school youth from around the world the opportunity to meet with like-minded peers to learn about global challenges while exploring the field of international affairs and diplomacy. The 2018 Youth Leadership Summit focused on the theme of “Immigrants and Refugees.”
Ninety-nine students from the United States, Jamaica and South Korea began their stay in Aurora, CO with a tour of the University of Denver where they were housed in dorms followed by dinner and orientation activities including an epic game of rock, paper, scissors!
Students Learn the Value of Community Service and Volunteering
For many of our youth delegates this was their first time learning about these topics, interacting with community organizations and volunteering. Some local students even expressed interest in continuing their volunteer work!
Students then participated in a walking tour of downtown Denver where they learned about the history and famous landmarks including ‘the blue bear’ and some students learned about the history of the local Aurora community at the Aurora History Museum.
Thinking about an International Career
A highlight for many of the student diplomats is the cornerstone of the Youth Leadership Summit, the Diplomatic Simulation. After splitting into four groups,
students assumed different roles and practiced their communication and negotiation skills as they worked together to attempt to resolve a fictitious international migration crisis. On the last full day, the students finished the diplomatic simulation and prepared presentations for the Annual Conference attendees where they shared their experiences during the Youth Leadership Summit including lessons learned from the simulation.
They then wrapped up their week with a night of celebration, reflection and dancing at the Annual Awards Dinner and Gala. On Sunday, students said their goodbyes to their new friends and returned home with a new passion for citizen diplomacy, more information about careers in international affairs, and a better understanding of issues surrounding support of refugees and immigrants in the United States.
Pull out quotes:
“My favorite part of the summit was the (diplomatic) simulation. The simulation created a great challenge many diplomats face every day…”
“Sister Cities International is hands a down phenomenal experience, the activities we did were non-stop, the new people I met from all around the world was great.”
“Many of us learned how stressful diplomacy can be and why big decisions can take time. It was very eye opening and I think a lot of us needed that new perspective to really understand today's current situations.”
“This experience has opened my eyes to different cultures and their views in and outside of the United States. It made me think in a way that I didn't think was possible.”
“Upon arriving, I was super nervous and slightly terrified, simply because I didn’t have very much knowledge about what it means to be a citizen diplomat. However, that completely changed by the end of the week.”
Sister Cities International (SCI) hosted its annual conference in Houston, Texas in July focused on the theme “Cities Mean Business.” Pre-conference events included an all-day U.S.-China Mayors’ Summit and an all-day Africa Forum, held at Texas Southern University. A range of interactive sessions and round-tables explored the conference theme from the perspectives of SCI’s program areas: Trade and Investment; Community Development; Youth Leadership; and Arts and Culture. Parallel to the Conference, we hosted our Youth Leadership Summit at Rice University. The Annual Conference all included mini-summits on U.S.-Mexico, and U.S.-German relations. Reflecting on the 2019 Annual Conference, several key themes emerge from panels and discussions. Uniting these themes is the principle of innovation, which is a core element infused into all SCI initiatives.