U.S. Embassy Brazzaville invited Professor Lex Paulson, a speaker from the State Department’s Africa Regional Services (ARS) office in Paris to the Republic of the Congo to host workshops on youth civic engagement and leadership from April 21-26, 2014. The program was conducted in partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Civic Education and the National Youth Council. Approximately 300 young people from youth religious groups, NGOs, and youth wings of governing and opposition political parties attended workshops in Brazzaville, and Pointe-Noire, the country’s economic capital.
The workshops provided participants with the unique platform to engage with one another and reflect on their individual civic engagement motivations and goals. In addition to presenting on the fundamental elements of civic engagement, Professor Paulson facilitated group projects where youths worked on identifying their communities’ problems, setting realistic and measurable goals, mobilizing resources, creating partnerships and setting up effective online youth engagement platforms via social media. Participants also learned from Professor Paulson’s long standing civic and political activism experiences, notably his role as youth outreach director for “Obama for America” in 2008 in Massachusetts. During the program’s closing ceremony, Ambassador Stephanie S. Sullivan conveyed to the Congolese youth that “the U.S. government and the American people believe in the force of youth and in its ability to reinforce democracy,” and encouraged them to share and apply the acquired knowledge in their communities and organizations.