In May I wrote about Rory McCourt, one of my student advisers from Victoria University of Wellington who was then Washington-bound as part of a State Department exchange program titled “Empowering Youth as Change Agents.” Rory is now back from his trip, and he came by the Embassy’s Digital Studio last week to chat about the experience.

In the embassy studio with Rory.

In the Studio with Rory.

As I previewed in my prior post, Rory was joined by 11 other young leaders from around the world, including from places as different as Ireland, Cambodia, Israel, Iraq, Swasiland, Bangladesh, and South Sudan. Rory and the other attendees traveled to New York City, Ohio, and Washington, DC to meet with White House officials, university groups, the Cleveland Foundation, and a variety of NGO and civic leaders.

The program was designed to help students develop the skills, confidence, resources, and networks to effect positive change in their communities. There was a particular focus on the role of young people in civic, charitable, political, and economic affairs in the United States, and on the various American institutions that engage with youth. Rory came away with new friends, new ideas, and strong impressions, which you can hear for yourself in the short interview below:


Regular readers of my blog know that the Rory’s trip was just one aspect of the Embassy’s comprehensive engagement with students and future leaders in New Zealand and Samoa which includes my university student adviser groups, Connecting Young Leaders conferences in Auckland and Wellington, Future Leaders of the Pacific Conference in American Samoa, support of the Vex Robotics competitiondeaf student-athlete exchange programnative Hawaiian student rugby tour of New Zealand …

… the Ambassador’s Outstanding Award in the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Realise the Dream program, small-group meetings for students with visiting dignitaries such as former Secretary Hillary Clinton and Attorney-General Eric Holder, inclusion of students in all official dinners at my Residence, travel prizes for outstanding young entrepreneurs and filmmakers, our extensive Education USA university info and advice programs, the Fulbright scholarships, tours of primary schools by a science rapper

… and much more, both in the rear-view mirror and on the road ahead. For example, we are planning a university info and recruiting fair in Auckland for September with representatives from more than 3 dozen top American schools, and our next Connecting Young Leaders conference for my university advisers is falling into place for October on the South Island. So stay tuned.