First Steps to Cultural Understanding for US Teens

by Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners of the Americas, Inc.
Jul 14, 2009

1st Midwest Regional Meeting

Grace, Alvero, and Nicole
Grace, Alvero, and Nicole

Thanks to the kind donations of so many we have already begun taking the time to enhance awareness for US teens! Two teens from Nicaragua were brought up to Wisconsin to spend a week and participate in the Partners of the Americas, 1st Midwest Regional Meeting. The teens recieved an increased awareness of what is currently being provided and inspiration for what they can do to enhance our organization.

Some comments include these from Mirna Angulo of Nicaragua, "As some of you may know, Alvaro, Grace and I had the opportunity to travel to Wisconsin again and also to attend the 1st Midwest Regional Conference in Chicago June 25-27. It was an interesting and enriching conference for us and for our chapter (Compañeros de las Americas) as well since we had the opportunity to network with other chapters from the U.S. The three of us had the chance to talk about YA activities in our chapter but Alvaro and Grace were in the youth panel and were able to answer questions from the audience. I congratulate them as they did a great job sharing their stories of how youth is involved in different activities and also what fears does youth have that enable them to not participate of the activities. I think we all took back something with us to apply in our daily work and routine. The Wisconsin/ Nicaragua chapter is a true sample for other chapters and they even asked the magic question, “how do you do it” We have many ways of working from people-to people programs and it is exactly those projects that give life to our organization. A few weeks ago you received from Amy and email talking about the Global Giving Event and that we all needed to collaborate to be able to win a permanent spot in their website which is seen around the world. Many of us did contribute with the belief that WNP would win this competition and it did. Thanks to all of you who donated and thanks to your parents and friends who also made this possible. Who have no idea of how great this opportunity is for WNP, it will allow us to have information about our youth projects and those people out there who read about them can donate to us to be able to carry out those projects. It is opportunities like this that we need to take the most advantage of and these are reasons why we need your collaboration to make this organization the most successful. The fact that Alvaro, Grace and I had this opportunity recently is just one of many and to give you an example here are some of them: Peer Learning Event in Paraguay, Fiesta Nicaragua in Wisconsin and then a Conference in Washington DC in Nov this year) to which some of you will also have to privilege to be part of as long as you all stay active and committed with our organization, participate of the meetings, develop projects within your community to help the most in need, volunteering in our office, keeping in touch with the office in Nic and Wisconsin. All of these things make a difference in all of you."

Here is a press release sharing a little more about what the 1st Midwest Regional Meeting was really about; Wisconsin represented at 1st Midwest Regional Meeting "Getting to know you" is a lyrical description of the premier event that took place in Chicago this past weekend. Partners of the Americas (POA), one of the largest volunteer organizations in the Western Hemisphere, hosted the first Midwest Regional Conference on volunteerism that featured the power of citizen diplomacy, the primary force in bringing together the two great continents of the Americas and Central America.

Wisconsin-Nicaragua (located in Nelson Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point campus), Iowa-Mexico, Illinois-Sao Paulo, Brazil, Indiana-Rio Grande de Sul, Brazil, Kansas-Paraguay, Michigan-Belize, Minnesota-Uruguay, Missouri-Para, Brazil, Nebraska-Piaul/Matto Grosso do Sul, Brazil, Ohio-Parana, Brazil, and Honduras-Vermont, represented the breadth of international affiliates that presented the best of the best in intercultural communication with the singular purpose of bringing people and ideas into a closer working relationship for the good of our hemisphere and the global community.

The spirit of volunteerism and what one individual can accomplish in grass roots relationships was the theme of every session, workshop and discussion. "One highlight of the conference was the inclusion of youth leaders from Wisconsin and Nicaragua; having the students participate in discussion panels clearly brought to realization how valuable events like this Regional Meeting are in fostering and developing leadership skills among teens," said Amy Wiza, program director for Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners. Person to person diplomacy is nothing new but easily subordinated or forgotten when the events of central government dominate the news. Partners of the Americas with the help of the Illinois-Sao Paulo, Brazil chapter successfully raised the role of citizen diplomacy to a prominent level as ten associate POA chapters gathered to share their best practices in fulfilling their destiny of cultural understanding and exchange. The enthusiasm for getting to know others through understanding one another's culture and offering cooperative opportunities to meet each other's needs was the big "take home" reward for attending this unique and life changing conference. The 62 attendees discovered that working together in their own communities and through international exchanges everyone benefits and a higher quality of life is achieved. This 2-day conference has ignited a stronger spirit of international responsibility for every citizen who accepts their role of goodwill in the global community.

No one can doubt the tremendous impact this international gathering of motivated citizens will have on their home communities here in the US and across the hemisphere. Friendships have evolved, ideas have been planted, plans have been created and commitments have been made that will bring tangible results as citizen diplomats return home and resume their volunteer efforts. Well-done Partners of the Americas for their vision and initiative in promoting volunteerism and citizen diplomacy.

Partners of the Americas began in 1964 as the people-to-people component of President John F. Kennedy's Alliance for Progress, and has since evolved into a private nonprofit organization. W/NP is one of 95 chapters throughout the United States. Areas of work include education, cultural exchanges, healthcare, and the environment. There is more information on Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners on the Web at

Youth participating in conference
Youth participating in conference
The youth panel
The youth panel



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Organization Information

Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners of the Americas, Inc.

Location: Stevens Point, WI - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Amy Wiza
Program Director
Stevens Point, WI United States

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