U.S. State Department program brings International leaders to Lynchburg

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LYNCHBURG, Va. Students in Marek Payerhin's Global Politics class at Lynchburg College got to hear from a unique group of guest speakers Monday.

They traveled from countries on other continents, to talk about ways they're making a positive impact.

"Not only are these young people about the same age as our students, but they have already accomplished, but they have already accomplished so much that they are really an inspiration," explained Payerhin, a professor of political science and International relations at LC.

The foreign visitors are being honored by the United States government. Each one is receiving an "Emerging Young Leaders Award," from the U.S. State Department.

"It shows there are governments that do believe in the potential of young people," said Hillary Briffa, a young leader who has worked to fight hate speech and create access to health care for young people in Malta.

"As young people we have a voice to raise on an International level that can get those in decision making positions to take us seriously," Briffa said.

The award recipients were selected by staff at U.S. Embassies, as a way to highlight their efforts and give them additional resources.

Zulfirman Rahyantel has facilitated community dialogues in Indonesia, to help people from different religious backgrounds understand one another.

"Young people are the ones who make change and it's the young people who must determine what the future is going to look like," said Rahyantel.

Monday's visit was a chance for the students to share information about their work, and help their peers in the United States understand just how much they have in common with their counterparts in other countries.

"This is a really important chance to broaden our perspective," said Payerhin.

The young leaders will also visit Austin and Chicago during their U.S. visit. They're being hosted by Legacy International, a group based in Bedford County that works with the state department to promote world peace.