AMBASSADOR MEEHAN: Mr. Secretary, bienvenido a Confiteria Torres. I am thrilled to introduce you to four, really inspiring and amazing alumni, Chilean alumni of the YLAI program, the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative. I have had the opportunity to spend a couple of minutes with them, learning from them about their projects, their communities, the impact that the program has had on them, and I really cannot wait for you to hear all of the great work that they are doing and the ideas that they have. So, I’d like to invite you to say a few words to kick us off, and then we’ll get started with the conversation.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Great. Thank you, Ambassador. Thank you all for being here. One of the things that most inspires me are the exchange programs that we’ve had, and we’ve built over the years. And I’ve seen these powerful connections that are made between people participating in the programs and my country, and they tend to be lasting connections. And so, I’m hugely trying to find a way to connect with the people who have taken part, to learn about what the experience was like, what you got out of it, but also, critically, what you’re doing now and how your participation in the program may have had some impact on that.
But what I was particularly looking forward to today is talking to the four of you because entrepreneurs, which each of you is, are truly engines of growth in both of our countries. And you’re focused on trying to solve problems (inaudible), but you’re also social entrepreneurs, which means that you’re also trying to make a difference in your communities, and that’s a very powerful thing. If we can marry these two things together, it creates opportunity, it creates growth, and it creates positive change, and I know that each of you is doing that in different ways. So, I was particularly anxious to hear, and as the ambassador said, we’re – so much of this is about learning from you, learning from your experience, learning what’s worked, what hasn’t – and also, going forward, how our governments can help or maybe get out of the way and not help, as the case may be. (Laughter.)
But I think it was striking to me as well because I had a chance to spend some time with President Boric today and other colleagues in the government. And so many of the things that we’re trying to do, both the United States and Chile, when it comes to building more equitable societies, inclusive growth, this is very much also what you’re doing (inaudible).
So, I’m much more interested in listening than talking. (Laughter.) It’s great to have all of you here. Thank you.
AMBASSADOR MEEHAN: Great. So, Mr. Secretary, I’d like to invite each of the fellows to briefly introduce themselves, share a little bit about the impact that YLAI has had on them and their work. And we will start with Camila Roa. Por favor.
MS ROA: Mr. Secretary Blinken, Ambassador Meehan, we’ve been waiting for you. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Yes.
AMBASSADOR MEEHAN: (Off-mike.)
MS ROA: So, it’s such an honor for all of us to be here with you today and share the meaningful experiences we have with YLAI. My name is Camila Roa. I’m a teacher of English. And I participated in YLAI in 2017, together with Paulina. And I participated with a project that is called Desde Fuera del Centro, which is an educational and cultural project that aims to decentralize contemporary music through workshops and concerts in (inaudible) school for children.
Nowadays, I’m the president of Becarius for Impact, which is one of the two alumni associations that we have. And with them, I’m working on a new project that is called Wilegeau, which means “creating a future” in Mapudungun. Mapudungun is the native language of Mapuche community, and we are carrying out our project with workshops about Mapuche culture through English so that teenagers can have a greater appreciation for their own culture, like feel proud of their culture, and also learn a language that will allow them to share the culture with anyone in the world, and of course improve the – our job and career opportunities.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: That’s wonderful. It’s interesting too, because English is about connectivity. We have digital connectivity, but we also have personal connectivity. For this moment in our collective history, English is one way we connect, do it’s very powerful that you’re doing that at the same time.
I’m curious about – (inaudible).
MS ROA: Yes.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Tell us a little bit about how the access to music program works.
MS ROA: Well, we started in a local school. My husband is a composer, and he composes contemporary music, which is a little bit – it’s non-traditional so it can be difficult to have access to it, because you have to live in a main city where you can have a like, a concert hall, you can – you need the money to pay for the tickets. So, we realize that it’s something that you can only find here or at universities where they have music programs. So, it’s (inaudible), you see. So, we don’t want that – I mean, for some people, music is just something they can, like, buy – like a product. But for us, music and art is something that children have the right to have access to.
So, we take musicians to schools, and – and composers – and they compose music. The first time it was for toy instruments, so it can be closer for kids. I have the pictures here. So, these are the ears of all these students that participated.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Oh, that’s wonderful.
MS ROA: Because one of the soft skills that we taught was listening – not only music, but each other. It’s so important. So, there we have the composer with the toy instruments.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: That’s wonderful.
MS ROA: And all the kids. It was wonderful. And we had concerts only for them. They were the audience.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Is this program continuing or —
MS ROA: Not anymore, sadly. Yes, that’s an issue, continuity.
AMBASSADOR MEEHAN: Something to discuss, yeah.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Something to take a look at and also – but also inspiring to me, too, because the way – there’s more we can do (inaudible) back in the United States to create better access.
AMBASSADOR MEEHAN: And the Secretary is a huge music lover himself.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Yeah, I am. I’m particularly intrigued with that.
AMBASSADOR MEEHAN: (Off-mike.)
MS ROA: Okay. (Laughter.)
AMBASSADOR MEEHAN: So, thank you, Camila.
MS ROA: Thank you.
AMBASSADOR MEEHAN: And I’d like to thank the Chilean and U.S. press for sharing these stories and look forward to seeing you at any future events. Thank you so much.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thanks everyone.