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Story and photos by Kamilla Silina,

400 years ago in Jamestown, Virginia over the course of 6 days, 22 representatives and their leadership laid the cornerstone of modern democracy. The seeds of active citizenship and principles of citizen engagement were planted then and later embedded in America’s founding documents.

Fast-forward to May 2019 – Global Pathfinder Summit, Charlottesville gathered together 150 emerging leaders and changemakers from over 50 countries who represent the bright future of our world. Among them were 5 of CHI’s cultural exchange program alumni, who have proven their leadership capabilities and were selected to represent their countries on the Summit.

Throughout the week these young individuals were given a chance to share their passion, energy and engage in a constructive conversation on civic engagement, diversity and democracy. Besides thought-provoking keynotes, inspiring speeches and productive workshops, participants had a chance to actively engage in community services throughout the city of Charlottesville. For some, this was the highlight of the event. Watch the full overview of the event with participants’ interviews here.

What exactly does it mean to be a young leader around the globe? How can those with a deep passion maximize impact? With nearly half of the world’s population under the age of 25, young people must be represented in leadership, but many societies face barriers of longstanding authority. These and many other topics were discussed in depth giving a chance for young leaders to raise their voice and express their thoughts on these issues around the world and ways to move forward.

On the topic of public diplomacy, Lynette Evans-Tiernan, Public Affairs Specialist at the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs Office of the Private Sector Exchange delivered an Ignite talk about people-to-people diplomacy and the idea of fostering intercultural learning as a result of cultural exchange programs. “Exchanges help us build a more peaceful and prosperous world. It’s the idea that when you’re in your host community you form long-lasting friendships across borders, across time-zones, across oceans. So when you look at the map you no longer see countries you don’t know anything about. You see places where your friends live and countries you know something about.” Watch the full video here.

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