I will share with you some of the highlights of these experience because to be honest, it was powerful in so many layers that my words will not fit in the following space. Therefore I will share mainly about the professional events.
This summer I traveled to the U.S. for 50 days to be part of a fellowship program sponsored by the U.S. State department; it is called: Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative and it gathers together 245 fellows from all the Americas. We were divided in 20 groups: 1 state per group. In my case I was assigned to Salt Lake City, Utah with 8 more young people from Brazil, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela, Perú y Colombia.
Within Salt lake City, I was allocated to work for 4 weeks closely with “Youthlinc”, an NGO that creates lifetime humanitarians, sharing same age beneficiaries as Life Academy, youngsters between 14 to 28 years old. https://www.youthlinc.org
I worked with them during 4 weeks where we built a good relationship that ended up being a commercial relationship as they decided to buy Life Academy membership for their students (up to 400). In addition, I learned a lot about the way they do things, how they impact youths, how is their relationships with clients and stakeholders and of course, how they are auto-sustainable.
After we finished the 4 weeks in Utah, we traveled to Washington D.C. for the closing forum where we met all the 245 fellows and even more fellows from past cohorts who were invited to come this year. We were more than 300 people in the same place. It was amazing to meet so many young people, mostly latins, working towards building social enterprises.
During the event, they run a pitch competition among all 245 fellows and selected 10 top pitches to be presented at the forum. I am happy to tell you that Life Academy pitch was one of those. I attached the pitch in the youtube links so you can watch this exciting moment for me. I must admit I was terrified to do so in only 3 minutes and in english but I put a lot of effort preparing it so at the end of the day it was amazing.
AUDIENCE REACTION https://youtube.com/shorts/sFPgcczoxvs
In a nutshell, the experience was enriching for my personal and professional life. My network grew immensely, I made good friendships among America, I signed up new clients, I entered North-American market and I enjoyed every minute of the road.
Currently, I am back in Colombia designing the next steps for Life Academy. It is an exciting view for what is coming!
If you are curious about this fellowship, do not hesitate to take a look on their webpage and maybe consider to apply as well, as the program is hosted every year! https://www.irex.org/project/young-leaders-americas-initiative-ylai-program