The Department of State marked the 40th anniversary of the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX), the 30th anniversary of the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX), and the 20th anniversary of the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) programs with a reception at the Department of State on October 18th. Nearly 350 CBYX, FLEX, and YES alumni, volunteer host families and schools, program implementers, and other stakeholders, gathered to commemorate and honor the importance and legacy of these three programs. Hailing from almost 60 countries, the nearly 160 program alumni in attendance represented young change makers drawn from diverse professional fields, which included civil servants, doctors, educators, entrepreneurs, journalists, lawyers, NGO founders, researchers, and software developers, among others.
During their visit to Washington, DC, alumni participated in professional development workshops and networking activities. They enjoyed inspirational sessions and engaging discussions with Ambassador Capricia Marshall, 23rd White House Social Secretary and former Chief of Protocol of the United States; Ambassador Maria Yovanovitch, former Ambassador to Ukraine, Armenia, and the Kyrgyz Republic; State Department Special Envoy for Global Youth Issues Abby Finkenauer; Dr. Raj Shah, President of Rockefeller Foundation and former USAID Administrator; General Charles Bolden, 12th Administrator of NASA; Jesus Mantas, Managing Partner of IBM Business Transformation; and many other Department and private sector leaders.
While on the CBYX, FLEX, and YES programs in the United States, participants live with host families, attend high school or college, and become active members of their host communities, bringing the world to American communities and classrooms. These programs empower young people from around the globe, supporting civil society and democratic ideals, and promoting mutual understanding between the United States and other countries.
CBYX was established by the U.S. Congress and the German Bundestag in 1983 and is bilaterally funded and administered by both governments; members of the Bundestag have lauded the program as “a cornerstone of U.S.-German relations.” FLEX was created in 1992 after the fall of the Soviet Union by former Senator Bill Bradley, who believed that the best way to ensure long-lasting peace was through the exchange of young people. Senators Ted Kennedy and Richard Lugar created YES in October 2002 in response to the events of September 11, 2001. They remained champions of the program throughout the rest of their lives, meeting with students on a regular basis.
Official news published at https://www.state.gov/celebrating-the-power-of-youth-exchange/