The Northern Nevada International Center will once again welcome Algerian students and teachers to the University of Nevada, Reno campus this summer for the annual Algeria Youth Leadership Program June 30 to July 31. The students will join with University student mentors and local high school students to gain experience in cultural leadership and civic service, which they will be able to extend to their own communities at the end of the program.
"We hope the students will be able to learn from and teach each other through sharing their cultural experiences," said Carina Black, executive directory of the NNIC.
During their month-long stay in the United States, the 25 Algerian students will visit Washington, D.C., during the Fourth of July celebrations as well as San Francisco and Lake Tahoe. The majority of their time, however, will be spent in Reno, where they will team up with 10 local high school students to create social media marketing campaigns for community service organizations such as the Food Bank and United Way. In a new addition to the program this year, undergraduate students from the University of Nevada, Reno's Reynolds School of Journalism—Carolina Chacon, Elliott Shaw, Jennifer Young, Cara Dohnansky and James Morgan—will act as "global mentors" to the students during their time on campus.
"What we want to emphasize with these students is that the permission-based model has shifted," said Todd Felts, University journalism professor and organizer of the global mentors. "Whereas traditionally you would need to go through newspapers or other outlets to discuss or create news, it's now much easier to do that on your own, especially with the use of social media."
Students will use Twitter and Facebook accounts, blogs, and YouTube videos to spread the word about the issues their assigned community service organizations deal with. Felts and Black will use those same tools to keep in touch with the students after they return home to see how they improve their own communities after the program.
"We hope they go home, pick things they care about and believe in, and start talking about them," said Felts. "That, really, is change-creating a safe place for dialogue."
The University's global mentors expect to gain as much from the program as the younger students.
"I love traveling and feel that meeting people with different beliefs and points of view is the best way to broaden the mind," said Young. "I am really exited to meet the participants and get to know more about their culture and customs, as well as teach them ours.
According to Felts, the chance for students to "get out of their comfort zones" will also be an asset to the journalism school as well.
"It's another opportunity for our school to follow our mission to be a school of innovation, not just a school of journalism," said Felts. "Innovation is everything."
The NNIC is currently looking for individuals willing to host the Algerian students during their time in Reno, July 5 through 20. To learn more about becoming a home host, attend the Home Host Orientation, 4:30 to 7 p.m. June 7 in the Whole Foods Culinary Center at the South Reno Whole Foods store.