Global Xchange is an innovative, intercultural service exchange opportunity for young people to work together with people of other countries and to develop shared experiences, skill sets, and values.
A partnership between the British Council and the Volunteer Service Organisation (VSO), Global Xchange teams up groups of 18 young people, ages 18-25, usually from the United Kingdom and a partner country — and volunteers split their time during the service term between the United Kingdom and the partner country.
The U.S. participants will be part of the first multilateral group of volunters, with participants from the United Kingdom, France, South Africa, Sierra Leone, and Rwanda, in addition to the five U.S. volunteers.
On January 17, five community leaders from the Los Angeles area will set out for Durban, South Africa, for the first portion of their program, working with at-risk youth. In March, they will travel to Belfast, Northern Ireland, for the second portion. Today and tomorrow, the participants will gather in L.A. for training and to meet one another before their journey.
Global Xchange staff selected the following participants, who work at organizations that empower, mentor or otherwise help L.A. youth:
Andres Rivera from Street Poets, Inc. (a non-profit poetry-based peace-making organization dedicated to the creative process as a force for individual and community transformation)
Jill Gurr from Create Now which helps transform the lives of high-risk and at-risk youth through creative arts mentoring, education, resources, and opportunities.
Martha Chono-Helsley from Reach LA, a youth driven organization committed to educating, motivating, and mobilizing urban youth to improve their own lives and communities. The mission of REACH LA is to train low-income youth of color from Metropolitan Los Angeles, and empower them with skills to develop innovative program initiatives that lead to social change in their own peer community.
Leslie Schwartz from Homeboy Industries, an organization that assists at-risk and formerly gang-involved youth to become positive and contributing members of society through job placement, training and education.
Mary Agulian from LA’s Best, which provides a safe and supervised after school education, enrichment and recreation program for elementary school children ages 5 to 12 in the City of Los Angeles.
After their program is finished in late March, these five participants will help select 18-24 year olds to participate in a follow-up youth program to take place later this year in South Africa and Ireland.
This winter, we hope to bring you blog posts and a podcast interview with Global Xchange staff and some volunteers from among this group.