Shaler Area High School junior Gabe Ruano will represent the country this summer in Brazil as part of the U.S. Youth Ambassadors Program.
The three-week exchange program is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State, to develop young adult leaders who have a sense of civic responsibility and understanding of and respect for the issues of countries in the Western Hemisphere. The program focuses on human rights, multiculturalism, social justice, and social transformation.
“It was an honor that I was chosen,” said Gabe. “I hope to represent the United States and make an impact in the community in Brazil and in Pittsburgh through community service projects.”
Gabe learned about the opportunity from fellow Shaler Area student Caroline Clontz, a senior, who traveled to the Dominican Republic last summer through the program. She shared her experience with students in Shaler Area High School’s Spanish language classes. Gabe said he has traveled to Ecuador to visit family but was drawn by the opportunity to visit another country and stay with a host family.
Participants in the U.S. Youth Ambassadors Program engage in workshops, meetings with community leaders, community service activities, interactive trainings, cultural presentations, visits to high schools, local cultural activities, homestays, civic education programming, and more.
Students also are asked to complete post-trip activities to apply the knowledge and skills they have acquired by implementing projects that serve the needs of their community. Gabe hopes to return and focus on serving the Latin American community in Pittsburgh.