A 17-year-old from Grunthal has been selected as 1 of 13 Canadians to be a part of the Youth Ambassador Exchange Program. 

Tayler Huska applied last year and was chosen to be the alternate, she applied again this year and was thrilled to be selected. 

“I am super excited. It feels like such a big opportunity that I can go pretty far with, so I'm excited to be able to take this and learn more from it.” 

Last year she was very thankful to be an alternate, but she still really wanted to be a part of the program. 

“So I worked on what I needed to, I ended up applying again this year, and thankfully got in.” 

The Youth Ambassador Exchange Program brings together high school students and adult mentors from different countries to promote mutual understanding, respect, collaboration, and help prepare youth to make a difference in their communities. 

“It's a three-week exchange to the U.S. with the goals of developing a group of young adults with a strong sense of civic responsibility, commitment to their community, awareness of global issues, and strong interpersonal leadership skills.” 

The three-week trip starts today, and Huska will be flying out to Toronto for a pre-departure orientation. 

“After Toronto, we'll be heading to Chicago, where we will be taking part in leadership training, different civic responsibility activities, different volunteering, and discussing topics on social inclusion, entrepreneurship, innovation, and environmental protection.” 

After Chicago, they will be heading to Washington where they will be seeing different things like the Washington Monument and the Senate. 

"We will also be doing a presentation for a State Department Representative for a project that we have to implement back in our community.” 

She explains the criteria they look at when choosing the youth ambassadors: 

“They want students from across Canada between 15 and 18 years old who demonstrate leadership, aptitude, maturity, integrity, good social skills, and an interest in community service.” 

During the program, the group will engage in workshops, community service activities, team-building exercises, and meetings with community leaders.

When they return home, the ambassadors apply what they have learned to implement projects that serve needs in their communities.  

Huska is most looking forward to being able to work on a local level with NGO leaders in Chicago, and is excited to have conversations with people who have different views and perspectives. 

“I'm looking forward to being able to really broaden my horizon, I find that a really exciting part of the program. I like working alongside people and I like trying to benefit the community, and I feel like this program is a really big opportunity to get more tools in my toolbox to continue doing that within our community in the Steinbach area.”