President and CEO’s Notebook: YADL and China

In April, I had the privilege of conducting a working visit to China. Building on my trips to Peru and Russia since assuming my role leading the organization, this was my first trip to Asia on behalf of YADL. The impetus for this visit, however, dates back to early 2012.

For many years, the G8 & G20 Youth Network (now the International Diplomatic Engagement Association–IDEA) lacked a partner organization in China. Shortly after YADL assumed the leadership of the network in the summer of 2011, I worked closely with my colleagues in the United States and around the world to identify and cultivate a strategic partnership in China. Our collective research and networking introduced us to Lead Your Way.

Lead Your Way fosters leadership skills in Chinese young people through trainings and programs. Their mission aligns closely with YADL’s work and with the objectives of IDEA. With this as a foundation, YADL facilitated the induction of LYW into the association as the official Chinese member organization. LYW selected, trained, and sent the first official delegation from the People’s Republic of China to the G8 & G20 Youth Summits in 2012, which YADL hosted in Washington, DC. Since then, LYW has emerged as a reliable member of IDEA.

For YADL, global engagement is at the core of our mission and vision. Without proactive outreach to our partners around the world, our goal of providing young professionals with access and exposure to international relations becomes increasingly difficult. Moreover, YADL seeks to complement American foreign policy objectives in order to maximize our impact.

I hoped to accomplish two things with my time in China: 1) deepen YADL’s relationship with LYW and China, and 2) explore new programmatic opportunities between YADL and LYW on behalf of the US-China bilateral relationship. In Xian, I spoke to students at Gaoxin Number 1 High School to promote IDEA and our signature programs: the Y8 and Y20. (I even served as a judge for their campus speech contest!) In Beijing, I met with this year’s Chinese delegation to the Y8 and also gave a lecture on citizen diplomacy at Renmin University.

Most importantly, my gracious host, LYW’s founder and president, Liang He, and I broadly discussed future areas of cooperation between our two organizations. In the coming months, both YADL and LYW will be working toward launching a joint project that will immerse Chinese and American young professionals in the government, business, and culture of the United States and China. The US-China Young Leaders Exchange Program will provide its participants with the skills and resources to lead in a global society and understand the top two economies through experiential learning and service.

Our ambition is boundless. YADL and LYW will continue to face the inevitable challenges as unique opportunities and collaborate closely on this effort with the aim of launching USCYLEP by 2014 as an annually recurring program for both organizations. Success will only be possible through dynamic, transpacific public-private partnerships. Given our track record of US-China leadership and cooperation within IDEA, I am certain that YADL and LYW will continue their impressive trajectories.

Carlos Reyes is President and CEO of YADL

YADL CEO with LYW Y8 TeamCarlos Reyes, President and CEO of YADL (fourth from right) meets with the Chinese delegation to this year’s Y8, which was recruited and selected by IDEA partner organization, Lead Your Way, at Renmin University in Beijing, China on 14 April 2013