One of the programs I worked on this summer was the American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL). The cultural exchange started in 1966 to increase global understanding in an increasingly divisive world. Top American leaders between the ages of 25 and 40 travel overseas to learn about foreign political systems while key foreign political leaders between the ages of 25 and 40 visit the U.S. to learn about our political process. The CEO of El Pomar Foundation is an alumnus of the program. To show his gratitude, he hosts three delegations to visit Colorado every year. This summer, we hosted a delegation for El Salvador. Due to my immense cultural knowledge and Spanish language abilities, I was the first intern to ever work on ACYPL.
We divided our time between Denver and Colorado Springs, meeting with top state officials and participating in cultural activities. I arranged for the delegates to meet with Attorney General John Suthers, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, and Climate Change Manager (and CC alumna) Ginny Brannon. They also met with top Colorado Springs officials, such as Mayor Lionel Rivera and IFES (International Foundation for Electoral Systems) President Richard Soudriette. We also fit in plenty of cultural activities, such as National Cheesecake Day at The Cheesecake Factory, a tour of the US Olympic Training Center, and a hike around Garden of the Gods.
The Salvadorans were awesome. They remained engaged throughout the day and continuously asked thoughtful questions. El Salvador is a war-torn country, achieving peace a mere 17 years ago. At the end of the Civil War, Salvadorans restructured their political system, and are eager to improve it. It was such a rich experience to be able to get to teach such prominent leaders about the U.S. and our politics, while also getting to learn more about them and their country’s history. I also enjoyed the opportunity to meet with all of the speakers. I would normally not have access to political officials, such as the Attorney General, or meet with them in such intimate settings. It was interesting getting to see their take on the Colorado and American political system.
Overall, it was exciting to practice my Spanish and learn some Salvadoran slang (like chivo means “cool”). The bonds the Salvadorans and I formed will be long lasting, and who knows…one of them might very well become the President of El Salvador within the next ten years.