Now more than ever, young people around the world are increasingly becoming socially aware. Conversations around social justice and inequalities, quality education, poverty and wars, migrations and immigrations are not foreign to teenagers because of mediums like the internet, social media and smart phones.
Around the world, teenagers are not only reading and following local and global news as they unfold; they are also taking actions and sharing their thoughts. With this, we see the rise of a generation of young adults who are more proactive and productive; smart and intuitive; who are mobilizing and championing social causes, making changes and providing new recommendations to existing norms, all because they have opportunities to add their voices to ongoing conversations that are changing the world.
The AFS Effect
AFS is an organization that continues to provide young people with programs and platforms to engage and foster much needed conversations. As a global not-for-profit Network with local chapters across the globe, AFS provides intercultural learning opportunities that help people develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world. By making the most of international exchange programs, education initiatives, volunteerism and advocacy,
AFS nurtures young people from all backgrounds with essential global skills—and the passion for making a difference.
In Ghana, the network started operating in 1967, under the name AFS Ghana. In 1989, AFS Ghana registered as an independent partner in the network of over 50 countries under the name Intercultural Exchange Programs, Ghana. The name “AFS Ghana” remains an acronym, just as the indelible impacts of the organization. Over the years, hundreds of Ghanaian students have embarked on the intercultural exchange programs, and they come back breaming with the missions and values upheld by AFS; as young responsible global citizens ready to work for peace and understanding in a diverse world. To affirm faith in the dignity and worth of every human being and of all nations and cultures; and encourage respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms without distinction as to race, sex, language, religion or social status.
Through initiatives like the AFS Ghana School Clubs, and the Alumina Association, the students are able to continue in their new set of values and mission-driven mindsets. They become integral voices among their peers; through mobilizing, organizing and taking up creative projects and ideas, they institute positive social impacts in their schools and communities. Master Kwamena Addo Nhyira Hammond is one bright example. For eight years, Kwamena has been an AFS Ghana Volunteer.
Kwamenas’ AFS Journey
His journey began in 2014 when he participated in the YES Program. The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study program advances U.S. foreign policy goals and provides scholarships high school students from countries of strategic importance to the Unites States to spend an academic year in the United States. Students live with host families, attend high school, engage in activities to learn about American society and values, acquire leadership skills, and educate Americans about their countries and cultures.
His exchange in Aledo-Illinois was a very new experience for him, living in a small town and attending a predominately white high school. He quickly integrated, being a part of the Basketball, Football, and Track and Field teams, as well as a member of the choir.
On his return, he and other KL-YES students created a basketball academy project called “The Eagles Basketball Academy”. The academy currently runs an afterschool training program, a summer program, and a full-time program. There, students have a safe space for community recreational activity and become players with integrity and moral uprightness, that achieve academic success and can be agents of social development.
This program is accompanied by an interschool basketball league for schools participating in the EBAP. People in the community now have an opportunity to come together with a unifying thought, hence promoting communal integration and harmony. Kwamena has also recently created two startups related to sustainability, Ignite and Tracycle.co.
Even more, as part of his accomplishments this year, Kwamena is one of fifteen (15) AFS Volunteers who have received a scholarship to enable him attend this year’s “AFS Youth Assembly,” another youth-focused initiative that brings together the world’s foremost young leaders and changemakers. The Youth Assembly delegates, age 18 to 32, come from over 100 countries and possess strong leadership potential as well as keen interest in global issues.
According Kwamena Hammond, “This Youth Assembly will certainly bring bright minds equipped with various leadership skills, and I must say one does not often get access to such people in one setting. As I pose as a delegate for my home country, I would let no chance go in making a formidable network via all available forms of communication that would consistently be of assistance on my journey in effecting positive change in my home country and the global network at large.”
The 27th Session of the Youth Assembly
The theme of the 27th Session of The Youth Assembly is “Dare to Reshape the World.”  Through discussions, skill-building workshops, networking, and ideation challenges, and with the support of experts and practitioners in the field, young attendees will gain the relevant resources and opportunities they need to reshape the world. The program agenda will focus on four core areas where there are urgent challenges and exciting potential for young people to take action:
Track 1: Youth in relation to Peace and Politics; Education and Climate action;
Track 2: Global Health in relation to Mental health and Covid-19; effects on Marginalized populations;
Track 3: Global Citizenship: Leadership and Resilience in today’s world;
Track 4: Digital Cooperation and Inclusion: Technology and Artificial intelligence.
Additionally, Youth Assembly Delegates will have opportunities to showcase their individual work and generate impact including through the AFS Award for Young Global Citizens Pitch Competition for $10,000 and two runner up prizes of $2,500 each; Outstanding Youth Delegate Award; an Action & Impact Hub, and upon completion of the event will join our global network of alumni focused on action and impact.
To further enrich the Youth Assembly experience, three immersive thematic packages will be offered to Delegates to help them Connect and engage, learn and develop skills, and take action and create impact.
The outcome of the Youth Assembly is expected to connect the next generation of leaders, and translate their engagements into action-based projects and initiatives after the conference. It is anticipated that delegates will leave the conference equipped to confront challenges, seize opportunities, and make a difference in their societies and communities.
“We expect participants to experience The Youth Assembly not as an event, but as part of a journey that helps them realize positive change on the ground in their communities and across the world. The 2019 Youth Assembly Impact Report showed nearly 100 active projects working towards the Sustainable Development Goals in local communities,” a portion of the project concept notes reiterates. 
In line with these expectations towards a successful 27th Session of the Youth Assembly, AFS Ghana is working with Ghana’s Youth Assembly Ambassador, Ms. Juana Boateng, to harness collaborations and opportunities that are expected to emerge from the upcoming event, scheduled for August 12-14, 2022 at the Convene Center in New York City, USA.
For more information about on AFS Ghana and opportunities available for volunteerism, visit https://www.afs.org.gh/.
Link to: www.youthassembly.org
This section needs to be more succinct. Its important the reader gets a gist and then is moved to go to the website for more details