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In September, ACYPL hosted a seven-member delegation with three delegates each representing the Palestinian Territories and Tunisia and one delegate from Morocco. This was the second time that ACYPL has hosted a multi-lateral delegation comprised of these three countries. In Tunisia, the program partner was the Tunisian Young American Professionals, which ACYPL has been working with since 2012. ACYPL also partnered with the OCP Policy Center for the Moroccan participant and the US Consulate in Jerusalem for the delegates from the Palestinian Territories.
In Washington, DC, the delegation met with the office of Representative Kyrsten Sinema, several NGOs, and campaign operatives. A clear highlight was a frank conversation with two former Capitol Hill staffers from different parties that covered a range of topics including the American health care system, political messaging in campaigns, and the 2016 election. The group also enjoyed meeting with the Republican State Leadership Committee, where they discussed voter outreach and Republican strategies for rallying support in minority communities.
In addition to spending time in Washington, DC, the delegates visited Colorado Springs and Denver, Colorado to learn about municipal and local government. In Colorado Springs, the delegates met Lieutenant General Michael C. Gould to discuss conflict areas in the Middle East, toured the US Air Force Academy, interacted with cadets in a classroom setting followed by lunch in Mitchell Hall. The delegation was also hosted by the Mayor of Colorado Springs, John Suthers, for a reception and dinner at the El Pomar Foundation’s historic Penrose House. The delegation then traveled to Denver where they met with the Denver Elections Division to learn about the techniques they use to ensure the election process is fair and transparent. As a part of their visit, the delegation was able to tour the facility to observe how the division uses technology in the vote counting process. The group also met with a representative from the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce who works specifically on a project that connects underserved youth with the tools they need to find gainful employment. Members of the delegation found this meeting particularly useful, as all of their countries struggle with high rates of unemployment, especially among young people.
The delegation was able to enjoy many cultural activities during this exchange and interact with a diverse range of people. The group toured the National Monuments in Washington, DC and, while in Colorado, they visited the Garden of the Gods, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful municipal parks in the United States.
The delegation got along very well, despite coming from different countries that are dealing with a diverse range of issues. By the end of the exchange, they had formed lasting bonds and relationships that will continue well after the end of the program.