Press Release – US Embassy Wellington
Victoria University public policy student Rory McCourt has been chosen from a worldwide pool of applicants to attend a prestigious diplomatic youth exchange programme in the United States.
The 20-year-old, who is also president of Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association, was selected to attend the US State Department’s “Empowering Youth as Change Agents” project. It will run for two weeks in early June and will take place in Washington DC, Cleveland and New York.
The program was designed to give participants the skills, resources and networks to affect positive change in their communities back home. McCourt will meet with experts from government, academia, think tanks and the private sector.
“I feel incredibly honoured to be selected for this wonderful opportunity,” he said.
“I hope I can put forward the unique perspectives of New Zealand’s students and young people. I’ll be raising the issues of climate change, social and economic equality, and the need for jobs in a globalised world.”
McCourt will be one of a dozen youth delegates representing countries as diverse as Bangladesh, Ireland, Iraq, and Swaziland.
US Ambassador to New Zealand David Huebner, who nominated McCourt for the programme, said these youth exchanges can have profound and long-lasting impacts on the young people involved.
“Exchanges like this give aspiring leaders exposure to American culture, attitudes, and best practices, as well as to peers from around the world. The participants come back even more highly motivated, confident, and better equipped to achieve their goals to the great benefit of both countries,” he said.
The Youth Councils programme is run by the State Department’s Office of Global Youth Issues and is closely modeled on the long-standing International Visitor Leadership Program, which aims to provide emerging leaders worldwide with exposure to the United States.