Combining young students from Algeria with Reynolds School professors and students for two weeks during August is a tremendous learning experience. Professors worked with students to document their experiences and to take a look at what it means to “act in the world and not on the world.”
The Algeria Youth Leadership Program is a leadership and civic engagement program sponsored by the United State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the Northern Nevada International Center. The Reynolds School is one of the program’s teaching partners. The four-week cultural exchange program focuses on the themes of civic education, youth leadership development, respect for diversity and community engagement. Participants engage in a variety of activities such as workshops on leadership and service, community site visits related to the program themes, interactive training and discussion groups, small group work, presentations, local cultural activities and homestays with American families. “It’s been such a great experience for the students,” said Stacy Kinion, the program’s director at the Northern Nevada International Center. “This is a once in a lifetime experience and the chance to work with RSJ students and professors is often the most memorable of the month-long visit to the USA.”
In the program’s ninth year, 25 students came to the Reynolds School to work with professors Nico Colombant and Todd Felts on leadership and creating a documentary about inciting change in Reno and back home in Algeria. Three Reynolds School students selected to serve as global ambassadors were: Nino Pinneri, Kristin Mitra and Alejandro Montalvo. They helped facilitate training and did much of the video and editing for a documentary.
The Reynolds School students play a part in helping facilitate many of the programs including editing, executing extreme team building and working with local organizations. Felts said AYLP can have a big impact on Reynolds School students involved, as many of the previous selected global ambassadors have gone on to hold international careers.
Felts has worked with AYLP students for all eight years. He said that the program shows how people are all similar — no matter where we live or grew up.
“We all want to find ways to bridge our differences and celebrate our sameness,” Felts said. “I keep in touch with many of the students from previous years and because of social media, watch them succeed in life and work.”