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Area students chosen for State Department program

Published: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

Fifteen northern Illinois high school students, including 10 from DeKalb County, have been chosen for a U.S. State Department leadership program to be held April 17 through 19 at the Stronghold Camp and Retreat Center in Oregon, Ill.

The three-day Global Youth Leaders Camp, sponsored by the State Department and administered by Northern Illinois University’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS), will bring American students together with 61 high school students and adult leaders from 10 Southeast Asian countries in a program emphasizing civic engagement and cultural understanding.

“Like their Southeast Asian counterparts, the American students will act as ambassadors for their country,” camp director Maria Nihei said in a news release. “We looked for students that excelled in service, leadership and community involvement, but also to represent the diversity of the American story.”

The international students will be at NIU April 3 through 22 to participate in the State Department’s Southeast Asia Youth Leadership Program. While SEAYLP has been run seven times at NIU, this is the first time the program is offering an opportunity for American students to participate, said CSEAS Director Judy Ledgerwood about the pilot program.

DeKalb County students participating will be Gracia Watson from Sycamore High School; Morgan Yordy and Yareli Tenorio from Rochelle High School; and Peyton Billips, Mikaela Bobo, Shaylee Hester, Lydia Hoffman, Zachary King, Britanny Koch, Katelynn Lothson and Lief Williams from DeKalb High School. Other area participants include Jomarie Perlas and Sativa Volbrecht from Elgin High School, and Kailin Sepp and Luis Garcia from Larkin High School.

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