WASHINGTON – Peruvian attorney Claudia Pacheco Sanchez says working with nongovernmental organizations in the United States has inspired her to tackle social issues back home.
“These are not only problems for one state, they are problems for everybody,” Sanchez said during an interview. “Everybody has to try to solve these common problems.”
She said that working with a shelter for victims of domestic violence in Alaska showed her the importance of providing both governmental and nongovernmental support for people of all ages.
In Peru, Sanchez said, the government offers many programs for women and for young children. But teenagers and young people are often overlooked.
“We have an obligation to help these teenagers,” she said. “They are part of the population, too, and if they don’t have opportunities, then of course they are going to have problems as adults.”
Sanchez said it is critical to intervene in young people’s lives before they face challenges such as alcohol, drugs and bullying.
“We have to find a way to stop that kind of behavior,” she said, adding that new programs focused on prevention and creation of new opportunities are an important part of the solution.
Sanchez came to the United States as part of the Professional Fellows Program, funded by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The program brings emerging leaders from around the world to the United States for intensive monthlong fellowships designed to broaden their professional expertise.
The fellowship includes a series of seminars, networking events and presentations to complement the participants’ work phase, during which they are placed in nonprofit organizations, private sector businesses and government offices across the United States to learn firsthand how issues in their field are addressed in the United States.
The fall 2012 program brought together 241 young professional fellows from 51 countries representing regions around the world. The fellowship offers participants a chance to build networks with each other as well as with their American colleagues, and creates an opportunity for the next generation of world leaders to develop a deeper understanding of U.S. society. In turn, thousands of Americans host, work with and learn from the foreign fellows while they are in the United States.
Fellows are welcomed to America each spring and fall. Following their visit, many of their American counterparts participate in follow-up programs overseas to spend time in the home workplaces of the fellows they hosted in the United States. During the past two years alone, more than 1,000 foreign and American professional fellows have participated in the program.
For more information or to apply for educational and work exchanges in the United States, visit the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs website.