AMBASSADOR MEEHAN: Mr. Secretary, bienvenido a Confiteria Torres. I am delighted to present four truly inspiring and amazing alumni, Chilean alumni of the YLAI program, the Americas Young Leaders Initiative. I’ve had the chance to spend a few minutes with them learning from them about their projects, their communities, the impact the program has had on them, and I really can’t wait to hear about the great work they do and the ideas they have. So feel free to say a few words to get you started, and then we’ll start the conversation.
SECRETARY FLASHES: Great. Thank you, Ambassador. Thanks to everyone for being here. One of the things that inspire me the most is the exchange programs we have had and built over the years. I have seen these powerful links that are made between those who participate in the programs and my country, and they are permanent. So, I am trying very hard to find a way to connect with the people who attended to find out what the experience was, what you got out of it, but also, critically, what you are doing now and how your participation in the program could have had an impact. it’s impact.
But what I have been especially looking forward to today is talking to you four, because the entrepreneurs that each of you are are truly the engines of growth in both our countries. You’re focused on trying to solve problems (inaudible), but you’re also a social entrepreneur, which means you’re also trying to change your communities, and that’s a very powerful thing. If we can bring the two together, it will create an opportunity, it will create growth, and it will create positive change, and I know each of you is doing it in different ways. So I was eager to hear, and as the ambassador said, a lot of it is about learning from you, learning from your own experience, learning what has worked and what has not – and going further, how our governments can help and it may get out of the way and not help, as the case may be. (Laughter.)
But I think it struck me too, because today I had the opportunity to spend some time with President Boric and other colleagues in the government. And so many of the things we are trying to do in both the US and Chile when it comes to building fairer societies, inclusive growth, are also what you do (inaudible).
I am much more interested in listening than talking. (Laughter) It’s great to have all of you here. Thank you.
AMBASSADOR MEEHAN: Great. So, Mr. Secretary, I would like to invite each of the fellows to introduce themselves briefly, share a little about the impact YLAI has had on them and their work. And we’ll start with Camila Roa. Please.
MS ROA: Mr. Secretary Blinken, Ambassador Meehan, we have been waiting for you. (Laughter.)
AMBASSADOR MEEHAN: (In addition to the microphone)
MS ROA: So it’s a great honor for all of us to be here today with you and share the significant experiences we have with YLAI. My name is Camila Roa. I am an English teacher. And I participated in YLAI in 2017 together with Paulina. I took part in a project called Desde Fuera del Centro, which is an educational and cultural project that aims to decentralize contemporary music through workshops and concerts in an (inaudible) school for children.
I am currently the president of Becarius for Impact, one of the two alumni associations we have. I am working with them on a new project called Wilegeau, which means “creating the future” in Mapudungun. Mapudungun is the native language of the Mapuche community and we are implementing our project with workshops on Mapuche culture through English so that teenagers can appreciate their own culture more, feel proud of their culture and also learn a language that will allow them to share their culture with anyone in the world and of course improve – our work and career opportunities.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: That’s great. This is also interesting because English is about connectivity. We have digital connectivity, but we also have personal connectivity. At this point in our shared history, English is one of the ways we connect, is it very powerful that you are doing it at the same time.
Interesting – (inaudible).
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Tell us a little bit about how access to the music program works.
MS ROA: Well, we started at the local school. My husband is a composer and composes contemporary music, which is a bit non-traditional, so access to it may be difficult, because you have to live in the main city where you can have a concert hall, you can – you need money to pay for tickets. So we realize that this is something that can only be found here or in universities that have music programs. So it is (inaudible) you see. So we don’t want it – I mean for some people music is just something they can, like, buy – like a product. But for us, music and art are something children have a right to have access to.
So we take musicians to schools and – and composers – and they compose the music. This was the first time that it concerned toy instruments, so it may be closer to the kids. I have photos here. These are the ears of all the students who took part.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Oh, that’s great.
MS ROA: Because one of the soft skills we taught was listening – not only to music but to each other. It is very important. So we have a composer with toy instruments.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: That’s great.
MS ROA: And all the kids. It was wonderful. And we only had concerts for them. They were the audience.
BLINKEN SECRETARY: Does this program continue or –
MS ROA: Not anymore, unfortunately. Yes, that’s a problem, continuity.
AMBASSADOR MEEHAN: Something to discuss, yes.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Something to look at and also – but also inspiring to me, because by the way – there’s more we can do (inaudible) in the US to create better access.
AMBASSADOR MEEHAN: And the secretary himself is a great lover of music.
SECRETARY FLASHES: Yes, I am. I am especially intrigued by this.
AMBASSADOR MEEHAN: (In addition to the microphone)
AMBASSADOR MEEHAN: Thank you, Camila.
AMBASSADOR MEEHAN: I would like to thank the Chilean and American press for sharing these stories, and I look forward to meeting you at future events. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you to everyone.