A Nevada High School sophomore is one of just 18 students in the United States selected to participate in this year’s American Youth Leadership Program (AYLP) with Singapore and Malaysia. Josue Tovar will be in the two countries for three weeks this July.
AYLP is fully funded by the State Department and organized by Cultural Vistas, a nonprofit organization that uses career exploration to facilitate connections between Americans and international visitors. Cultural Vistas has been doing this work for more than 60 years.
Along with the 18 students going to Singapore and Malaysia, two educators will also participate. Tovar said he has been getting to know the other students and educators via a website, where they have been working together to prepare for their trip.
The AYLP program focuses on sustainable development, as well as the history and culture of Singapore and Malaysia.
"I would like to put myself in Malaysian and Singaporean people’s shoes," said Tovar. "I want to see what they see; I want to eat what they eat. I want to hear what they hear, and I want to live how they live."
Through all of this, Tovar said he hopes to gain an understanding of the Malaysian culture and become a better leader. He hopes to promote multicultural understanding and do a better job at being more welcoming to all students, of all backgrounds.
Tovar was told about the opportunity for the AYLP program by his Nevada High School English teacher, Inna Wieland, who also serves as Tovar’s second guardian.
Wieland said she gives all her students a link to the program’s website, but only Tovar pursued it.
Believing it would be a great opportunity, Tovar said he applied and was excited to get an interview, and then to be chosen for the trip.
"I was very proud of his getting accepted," said Wieland, who describes Tovar as a student with a passion for learning and helping others. Tovar volunteers with Spanish-speaking community members and new English Language Learner (ELL) students. "I thought a trip to Malaysia and Singapore is an amazing opportunity for Josue to meet great students from all over the country, be emerged in Malaysia and Singapore and learn about sustainable development. He will be a great youth ambassador from Nevada."
In a press release issued by Cultural Vistas, Tovar is described as an impressive young man and accomplished student. These qualities, it said, "helped set him apart from other applicants for this competitive program. Born and raised in Mexico, Josue hopes to return from the trip with the skills and knowledge to better promote cultural understanding" in the community of Nevada.
Tovar said he looks forward to learning more about leadership, about different cultures and about the governments of both Singapore and Malaysia. Then he looks forward to coming back to Nevada to share what he has learned. He plans to make presentations to Nevada students next year, and also to the Nevada Rotary Club.
As for the teacher/guardian who helped lead him to this opportunity, Tovar said, "I think it’s great. I’m really thankful to her."