U.S. Embassy’s Youth Forum Program Builds Leadership Skills Across Country

COLOMBO, December 10, 2019:  More than forty young Sri Lankan leaders traveled to Colombo from across the country to take part in U.S. Embassy-sponsored workshops on leadership and public service during the week of November 25.  The participants were all members of the U.S. Embassy’s Youth Forum program, which is conducted by the American Corners in Colombo, Kandy, Jaffna, and Matara.  After the Colombo workshops concluded, the participants traveled to Jaffna to set up a reading corner at a local school.

U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) Martin Kelly welcomed Youth Forum members to the workshop and shared his thoughts on the importance of leadership and community service.  He encouraged members to “nurture inclusive, thoughtful, and courageous leadership,” to be “critical thinkers and savvy consumers of information,” and to “understand the experiences and perspectives of (Sri Lanka’s) diverse communities.”  DCM Kelly applauded their commitment to community service, calling them role models who lead by example.  Noting the Youth Forum has given its members the opportunity to connect with youth from different religions, ethnicities, and hometowns, he praised them for being open to these new experiences, building trust across diverse communities, and sharing their new perspectives with friends and family.

Comprised mainly of university students, the Youth Forum offers promising young Sri Lankans an opportunity to develop professional skills and to work together to plan and carry out community service projects for underserved communities.  Personal and professional development, together with community service, are the cornerstones of the Youth Forum program.  Youth Forum volunteers each commit at least six months and 60 hours of service.   During their tenure, volunteers receive leadership training, gain project management experience, participate in inter-island cultural exchanges, and build networks with like-minded youth and community partners.  Youth Forum participants also create and conduct local programs within their communities, gaining valuable experience as leaders and mentors.  The program is free of charge.