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Ezekiel and Saffina go to Washington

Successful visit part of Straw-Powell Youth Exchange Programme

The centre helped to organse a visit by two young people to Washington as part of the State Department's Youth Exchange programme. Here is a brief diary of their visit.

 

Posted 18th July 2001

Secretary of State Colin Powell with Saffina and Ezekiel

This year marked the first Straw-Powell youth exchange, a programme intended to give young British and Americans of high school age the opportunity to visit each other’s country, look at the workings of government, meet the decision makers, experience some of the history and diversity of each nation and also meet young people of their own age to discuss shared issues and problems. From the US side, much of the impetus for this came about as a result of Secretary of State Colin Powell’s involvement with America’s Promise, a charitable organisation dedicated to "mobilizing people from every sector of American life to build the character and competence of young people." British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw’s support and commitment followed this principle to young people involved in international exchanges.

The American Studies Centre at John Moores University was pleased to be asked to take part in the programme by identifying a number of candidates for selection by the British Foreign Office’s North America Desk. After discussions with teaching colleagues at City of Liverpool College and following a series of briefings for students, details of eleven students were submitted. The selection was clearly going to be a difficult choice as all the students were of a high calibre. The student eventually selected, 17 year old Ezekiel Taffari, had not only excelled at college, but was also active in his local community. In 1998 he had also demonstrated his confidence and maturity by speaking at the 50th Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights in front of an audience that included British members of Parliament and the former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson. A second student, Saffina Ali, was put forward to the FO by her school in Leeds and accepted. Saffina had also excelled at school and also become active in promoting safe sex programmes to young people in Leeds.

A full report, by Saffina and Ezekiel, will appear on these pages in the near future, but to give a flavour of the event these pages contain general details of their visit to Washington and New York, as well as some of the images that will be with Saffina and Ezekiel for many years to come. Thanks for the success of the programme go not only to Saffina and Ezekiel, but also to the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the US Department of State, (particularly Deborah Underhill, Chief of the Voluntary Visitors Program and all her staff in Washington and New York,), the Goldstein and Larroque families, teaching staff at City of Liverpool College and Leeds City School and Liverpool John Moores University School of Media, Critical and Creative Arts.

Wednesday June 20th

 

Colin Powell, Ezekiel and SaffinaA full day shadowing Secretary Powell. (This day produced news reports in the UK on BBC, ITN and SKY news programmes and in the US on NBC nightly news as well as the morning ‘Today’ programme.) This included attendance at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a press briefing by Ezekiel and Saffina.

 

Thursday June 21st

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor greets Ezekiel at the Supreme Court

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor greets Saffina A tour of the White House; a briefing from Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska on initiatives by the US government on youth policy; a meeting with Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and tours of the Senate and House of Representatives. In the evening, Ezekiel and Saffina met with high school students from the Anacostia area of Washington

 

  Senator Chuck Hagel with Saffina and Ezekiel
Friday June 22nd

Sir Christopher Meyer in the UK Embassy grounds with Saffina and EzekielA briefing by Ron McNamara of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. A meeting with B.Keith Fulton at the Head Offices of AOL on developments by AOL on youth and community projects. A tour of the British Embassy in Washington by Sir Christopher Meyer, UK Ambassador to the United States. An evening of America’s favourite sport as guests of Mr.Peter Angelos, owner of the Baltimore Orioles, at the Orioles/Chicago White Sox game.

 

Baltimore Orioles Baseball stadium L to R Deborah Underhill and David Benze (State Department) Saffina, Ian Ralston (American Studies Centre) and Ezekiel

Saturday June 23rd

Saffina and Ezekiel with bust of Martin Luther King in the Capital Building

Ezekiel and Saffina with students from the Alexandria Youth CouncilA guided tour of the sites and monuments of Washington DC, including the Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt and Vietnam War memorials. A meeting with staff and students from the Alexandria Youth Council. A visit to the Holocaust Museum guided by curator Bruce Butterworth.

 

Saffina and the Jefferson Memorial
Sunday June 24th Travel to New York accompanied by Deborah Underhill and meet with Jay Kerig of the State Departments New York office. The ‘Big Onion’ walking tour of New York’s historic immigrant communities, including China Town and Little Italy. This was followed by attendance at the Broadway show ‘Rent’.
Monday June 25th

Breakfast with Mr. David Humpherville followed by a guided tour of the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. A tour of the Ellis Island museum. Guests of Bob Slade, the Station Manager at one of New York’s leading popular music radio stations (KISS FM). The Harlem Spiritual Tour followed (the Apollo Theatre and Cotton Club amongst many!) in the evening, including a meal at a soul food restaurant and a visit to the New Cotton Club.

 

Tuesday June 26th

Whilst Saffina met with Charmaine Peart, director of the NYC Youthline program operated by the City of New York, Ezekiel met with the legendary Isaac Hayes back at the radio station. The final session of the week-long programme was a visit to the headquarters of NYPD (New York Police Department) for a briefing on policing the city.

  All photographs on this page are © Ian Ralston and US State Department 2001. Reproduction forbidden without authorisation.
   
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