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As part of the 2018 Elections Exchange program, ACYPL welcomed six delegates from Brazil in November. The Brazil Industries Coalition assisted in selecting the delegation which represented all ends of the political spectrum and came from four different states in Brazil.
The delegates were pleased that the Washington, DC programming was so diverse. For example, the opposing perspectives on voting rights from the Heritage Foundation and The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law created a key topic of interest. Additionally, most of the delegates mentioned more than once that networking with the Macedonians, South Africans, Kenyans, and Botswanans was invaluable.
The Colorado programming, organized by the El Pomar Foundation, shifted the focus away from national politics and examined the elections process in more detail. The delegation explored key ballot issues regarding the environment and education through meetings with organizations like Colorado Rising. They also met with candidates for various county and state offices, including two ACYPL Alumni who both won their races. State Representative Susan Beckman [Brazil 1999], was up for re-election and met with the delegation for dinner to discuss the changing political landscape. The following day, former State Representative and State Senator-Elect Faith Winter [Turkey 2013] hosted the delegation at her campaign headquarters to witness a canvass launch. Another highlight was a tour on Election Day of the El Paso County Elections Department led by County Clerk and Recorder, Chuck Broerman, who won his reelection that same day.
The program occurred at an interesting time for this group as Brazil’s own presidential elections had happened only two days before their arrival in the US. The results did not hinder the formation of friendships, and ACYPL was pleased that the delegation was not fatigued of elections news, but instead immersed themselves in the programming. They made meaningful connections and commented that their previous perceptions of deep political division and hostility among Americans were challenged. One delegate summed up the thoughts of most in saying: “This was an outstanding opportunity for me and I will carry it for the rest of my life…thank you so much and keep going with this amazing project.”