It was another beautiful day for the IYLA.
We kicked off the day at the U.S. State Department. Della Hareland, Angela Woods, and Mark Azua welcomed us. They gave us information about internships and diplomat positions at the State Department.
Angela Woods, who works in the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, emphasized the importance of learning new languages and culture abroad and bringing that knowledge back. This kind of knowledge is only powerful when people continue to utilize it at home. How we use the knowledge when we return how determines the success of what we’ve learned.
Della Hareland offered a short presentation on her views of US-China relations as a member of the State Department. IYLA participants asked Mrs. Hareland many questions.
And, in honor of Pakistan National Day, we joined our Pakistani delegate in a moment of silence as we listened to the national anthem.
A short walk from the State Department led us to the Organization of American States. The ambassadors of Paraguay and Belize welcomed us to lunch. With a warm smile, Belize Ambassador H.E. Nestor Mendez told the delegates, “Being a young leader is challenging. Make use of it. It makes you a more valuable global citizen.” The ambassador continued, “You are in a unique position to take ownership. We need new ideas, new visions.”
He pointed out to the sea of young faces and concluded, “Take ownership of the world because it is yours!”
And why wouldn’t we? Our future grows brighter with every young person who has the courage to see from different perspectives, to become a citizen, not of their country alone, but a citizen of the world.
The next stop for IYLA was the beautiful Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia. Norah Al-Eidi and Tarik Allagany addressed the delegates and fielded questions. Tarik emphasized the importance a strong leader, “someone iwilling to guide people to do whatever they should regardless of what others think.”
In a first hand cultural exchange, six lucky delegates got to model traditional Saudi Arabian garments in front of their peers.
Into the last hours of the afternoon, participants engaged in a new kind of experience; a reflective, personal experience. Starting at the White House and ending at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, our assembly toured the historic landmarks of D.C.
A year after our first encounter with Abraham Lincoln, once again, I stood in front of the the silent, contemplative president, a quiet reminder of a nation once plagued with civil war but a resounding celebration of a nation united under the values of its founding fathers.
In Lincoln’s second inaugural address he stood in front of his countrymen and women with a vision.
“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right…let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle… to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”
Having lived a day as a global citizen, I realized the vision Lincoln spoke of does not pertain just to America, but to the entire world.
As young people from nations around the world, we struggle to resolve the conflicts within our country. However, it does not end there. If we dare to dream the biggest dream, a world of leaders united with that common vision will emerge.
There is nothing more powerful or more inspiring. We are creating a new reality based on vision, service, and entrepreneurship.