By: Hanna DelaGardelle—
Jacob Okomo, a 17-year-old student from Rusinga Island, Kenya, traveled over three days last spring to visit the United States. Jacob, among 23 other students, were selected by the U.S. Embassies in five different countries to participate in the Pan-Africa Youth Leadership Program (PAYLP), funded by the U.S. Department of State. David and Hanna DelaGardelle, residents of Muncie, accommodated Jacob in their apartment for two weeks while he studied at Ball State University.
After two consecutive years, the Center for International Development (CID) at Ball State was awarded another grant to host 72 African high school students and adult mentors for 2016. PAYLP brings participants from various countries throughout Africa in three separate cohorts, with the first group visiting from March 30 – April 12. CID partners with Meridian International Center, a Washington, D.C. based non-profit institution to provide diversity training, leadership workshops, and civic engagement opportunities.
While in Muncie the participants will focus on developing an entrepreneurial venture to implement back in their home communities. In the past, students presented on youth literacy and education, water sanitation, disability services, poverty and unemployment, female hygiene, HIV/AIDS, and environmental sustainability to name a few. Along with academic sessions on campus, they will actively volunteer and meet with government officials to learn about democracy and social justice.
To help the students experience the life of an American teenager, we are seeking families and individuals to serve as homestay hosts. During the two weeks, Hoosiers can learn about cultural traditions and differences while developing a lasting relationship with an international student.
If you are interested in hosting a PAYLP participant, please contact Hanna at firstname.lastname@example.org or 765-285-2685 for an application. The other two groups will arrive from August 10-23 and October 12-25.
Hanna V. DelaGardelle is Project Coordinator for the Center for International Development at Ball State University