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Southeast Asian program emphasizes civics, culture

Published: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 5:30 a.m. CST

Fifteen northern Illinois high school students, including nine from DeKalb County, have been chosen for a prestigious U.S. State Department leadership program to be held April 17-19 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, 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,” said camp director Maria Nihei. “We looked for students that excelled in service, leadership, and community involvement, and to represent the diversity of the American story.”

The international students will be at NIU April 3-22 to participate in the State Department’s Southeast Asia Youth Leadership Program. This is the first time American students have participated, center director Judy Ledgerwood said.

DeKalb County students participating will be Gracia Watson from Sycamore 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, Morgan Yordy and Yareli Tenorio from Rochelle High School, and Kailin Sepp and Luis Garcia from Larkin High School.

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