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US Embassy’s Youth Forum program builds leadership skills across country

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Members of the Kandy, Jaffna, Colombo, and Matara Youth Forums, which are US Embassy sponsored, at the Movenpick Hotel for two days of skill building and leadership training sessions

The Youth Forums partnered with a rural school on Analativu Island near Jaffna and established a reading corner

Activities and games with the students of the Analativu South GTMS school in Jaffna

The highlight of the day was gifts from Santa after the day’s activities were completed

Team spirit: Engaging with the school students and staff to collaborate and make a difference in their lives

Handing over gifts to students by the Youth Forum to brighten their day and to bring a smile to their faces


Over 40 young Sri Lankan leaders travelled to Colombo from across the country to take part in US Embassy-sponsored workshops on leadership and public service during the week of 25 November.

The participants were all members of the US Embassy’s Youth Forum program, which is conducted by the American Corners in Colombo, Kandy, Jaffna, and Matara.  After the Colombo workshops concluded, the participants travelled to Jaffna to set up a reading corner at a local school.  

US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) Martin Kelly welcomed the Youth Forum members to the workshop and shared his thoughts on the importance of leadership and community service.  He encouraged members to “nurture inclusive, thoughtful, and courageous leadership,” to be “critical thinkers and savvy consumers of information,” and to “understand the experiences and perspectives of (Sri Lanka’s) diverse communities”.

DCM Kelly applauded their commitment to community service, calling them role models who lead by example. Noting the Youth Forum has given its members the opportunity to connect with youth from different religions, ethnicities, and hometowns, he praised them for being open to these new experiences, building trust across diverse communities, and sharing their new perspectives with friends and family.   

Comprised mainly of university students, the Youth Forum offers promising young Sri Lankans an opportunity to develop professional skills and to work together to plan and carry out community service projects for underserved communities.

Personal and professional development, together with community service, are the cornerstones of the Youth Forum program. Youth Forum volunteers each commit at least six months and 60 hours of service.

During their tenure, volunteers receive leadership training, gain project management experience, participate in inter-island cultural exchanges, and build networks with like-minded youth and community partners.  Youth Forum participants also create and conduct local programs within their communities, gaining valuable experience as leaders and mentors.  The program is free of charge. 

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