Youth Ambassadors Program

What is the Youth Ambassadors Program?

The Youth Ambassadors Program is the BXSCC’s student leadership development program, which may include a trip to China. The chaperoned trip consists of site visits, educational classes, and cultural immersion. Baltimore / DC-area site visits may also be included as part of the program.

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Where Do We Go?

Every trip, we go to our sister city, Xiamen. Additional city visits may also be included as part of the itinerary.

For the 2024 trip, a visit to the State of Maryland’s sister province of Anhui and China’s capital of Beijing are also being considered.

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When is the Youth Ambassadors Program?

Summer, between late June and mid-August

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Who is Eligible?

All Youth Ambassadors trip student participants should be 14 to 18-year-old Maryland residents (or Maryland-based), with priority given to Baltimore City residents or students. Rising high school freshmen and graduating seniors are eligible.

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What Does the Program Cost?

The value of the program is over $7,000 per participant, inclusive of all transportation, lodgings, meals, and group activities. Actual program costs will vary from year to year*, pending fundraising levels. As a nonprofit organization, the BXSCC will do our best to make the program affordable through fundraising and grants. Leftover funds after the program has completed are refunded to the Youth Ambassadors. If you are interested in donating to this program, please follow the link below; specify the BXSCC and its Youth Ambassadors Program as the beneficiary.


*As a reference, the 2018 and 2019 out-of-pocket costs per individual participant were less than $2,000. Note that past costs are not a guarantee of future costs.

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When Do I Apply?

Applications will be available no later than March 1st of each year during which there is a trip to China.

If you are interested with getting involved in the Youth Ambassadors Program, please contact the BXSCC.

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Key Staff for the 2024 Program

Chelsea Nakabayashi is a faculty member at Bard High School Early College – Baltimore. She holds a BA from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, MAs from the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and the University of Massachusetts – Amherst, and a PhD from Beijing Normal University.

Jeannette Felton is the BXSCC’s long-time Education Subcommitte Chair.

Xin (Cindy) Wang is the BXSCC’s Chair and responsible for overseeing the organization’s overall structural support for this program. Cindy is a past recipient of the Gates Millennium Scholarship for high-achieving students with significant financial need, studied abroad during college through the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), and has served as a volunteer English-language lecturer in rural Jiangxi Province, China. She presently handles international sales operations for a Maryland machinery manufacturer.

John Facelo is the President of Baltimore Sister Cities, Inc. and a long-time officer of Constellation Energy’s Asian American Resource Group.

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Media Coverage of Past Trips

Article in China Daily Global Edition: “Baltimore students wowed by Xiamen”

Article in The Afro: “Baltimore Man Takes Students to China to Educate and Be Educated”

Article in Xiamen news: “Xiamen Shining in the Eyes of Two Baltimore Area Brothers”

Article in Xiamen news: “Baltimore Teenagers visit Xiamen in Sister-Cities Exchange Trip”

Article in Shanghai news: “Long Live With Our Friendship”

Article in 厦门网: “巴尔的摩学生代表团访厦 携手英文小记者体验厦门文化”

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Reflections from Past Program Participants

2019 Youth Ambassador Elijah A.
9 Years of Chinese Studies

“[I]t was my first trip to China, and my first time out of the United States. It was warmer than I expected. The heat was something that I never experienced to that degree. The cities were so pretty. The architecture of the buildings was amazing. I wish I took more pictures. It was also fascinating to meet students of a different culture.”

“I’ve been learning Chinese for a total of 9 years. I started when I was five years old in kindergarten. I attended a language emersion school for elementary and middle school. I wanted to continue learning Chinese because it’s a cool language to learn, and my mom doesn’t know what I’m saying.”

“This trip helped me learn more about Chinese culture. It taught me about the different foods, how to eat them and how to write in Chinese using a “mao bi 毛笔”. There were so many cultural activities every day that I couldn’t wait for the next day to come.”

“One interesting story is that the ice cream we had was the best ice cream I ever tasted in my life! Also, eating from a rotating table was so different, I wish I had one at home. Also, I hope the Baltimore and Xiamen friendship does not end. It was such a great opportunity, and I will always remember my time in China.”

2019 Youth Ambassador Jahnae D.
Approaching 1 Year of Chinese Culture Studies

“[This] was my first trip to China and being outside the country. My first impression on Xiamen was that I could tell it was a place for people to live in instead of doing business in. It’s a beautiful place that’d be wonderful to call home. Seeing the buildings and tourist places that it’s filled with showed that Xiamen is filled with a lot of history but also very modern. Working with the Chinese students and being able to meet some of them was my favorite part being in China. Being able to communicate with them and understand that we’re not so different was a huge part of what made the trip so amazing.”

“This trip has helped me gain a little more knowledge of China. Before going to China, I’d taken a Chinese culture class, so I’d already known some things about China. I’d known the history of Mao, about concubines, and the cultural differences. I also got to learn more things that I didn’t get to learn in class while visiting China. I learned about Gulangyu 鼓浪屿 island, which has a lot of old architecture and history behind it.”

“I have made many Chinese friends! I’ve made a friend that I talk to every day since I’ve left China! I chat with her through WeChat, and we get to exchange what is different here in America and there in China. I hope to see my friends again someday, either in China or here in Baltimore. The opportunity to bring them to Baltimore would be a fun experience because most of the people I’d met had never been to America before. I’d love to get the chance to introduce them to some of the things that we have here that they don’t have.”

2019 Youth Ambassador Madison H.
4 Years of Chinese Studies

“This was my first time in China. I was immediately and pleasantly surprised at how welcoming all the students were. They were a lot of fun to work with, and they had such excellent English skills. Xiamen was so pretty to visit. Every place we visited had trees and flowers, it was all so calming, even though the actual city was quite bustling with all the traffic.”

“I’ve learned Chinese for a total of four years. I want to keep learning because I think it’s becoming a more popular foreign language in the USA, especially Maryland. I also love learning foreign languages, and Chinese will be super useful as I enter the workforce, especially in my desired field.”

“This trip made me think about all the little cultural differences between Chinese culture. For example, education and transportation, things that I’ve never questioned in my day to day lifestyle but are significantly different for the students and people in China. Before I traveled to China, the only knowledge I had about China was from my history class textbook. However, this trip has allowed me to understand just what it looks like to be in a developing country, such as China.”

“Baltimore and Xiamen’s friendship is an excellent example for other cities in the US. Even when national ties are shaky, local connections can be the key to keeping things stable. If more cities in the US had relationships with cities in China, I think it would mean that country relations with China would slowly get better as well.”

2019 Youth Ambassador Camille L.
6 Years of Chinese Studies

“This [was] my second trip to China. I visited Yangz[h]ou and Shanghai a few years ago. I had an enjoyable time when I spent time with the Chinese students. I learned that we have a lot of things in common.”

“I have learned Chinese for six years now. I started when I was young because my parents wanted me to learn the language. But now that I am older and because I have been learning for so long, I have come to feel proud that I can speak this complex language. I see myself growing up and working in a job where my language skills will help me.”

“I have learned more about Chinese culture thanks to this last trip. The more I learn about China I understand how much history there is and that’s very interesting to me. While visiting the Forbidden City, I could honestly imagine what life was like for the people hundreds of years ago.”

“For me, I was very interested in visiting Xiamen University because I had researched the prestigious university. I want to be a Marine Biologist when I graduate college, and I read that Xiamen University had a program that might be good for me in that area. I was then very excited when we visited Peking University because I was able to another [school’s] perspective.”

2018 Youth Ambassador Aaron G.
3 years of Chinese studies

“We really enjoyed our hosts because they made me feel at ease and were really nice. I also enjoyed the food in Xiamen. Authentic Chinese is the best! The highway construction was really interesting and seemed gravity defying. The highway appeared to just hover. Really cool. Because of all these memorable places and people, my first trip to Xiamen was fantastic.

“In conclusion, Xiamen was an experience to remember, with our amazing Tokyo Drift Driver, the beautiful scenery, fantastic food, the kids we met and the activities at the Youth and Children’s Palace.”

2018 Youth Ambassador Alexander G.
4 years of Chinese studies

“The trip to Shanghai taught me that people are more similar than you think. I have learned and experienced so much this past trip to Shanghai. I met so many kids from different backgrounds and cultures on this trip: kids from Japan, Serbia, France, England and New Zealand all converged in one place. They taught me some of their languages, slang and culture. It gave me insight into how each of them lived and their cultures.”

2018 Youth Ambassador Kolby L.
9 years of Chinese studies

“My experience in Xiamen was amazing and I would love to visit again. Everything was so picturesque and there were even palm trees everywhere. The first day in Xiamen we went to see the 2017 BRICS XIAMEN SUMMIT venue, where some of the world’s most powerful leaders met. Later that day, we went to visit the Xiamen Youth & Children’s Palace and had dinner with members of the Xiamen Municipal Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Office.”

2018 Youth Ambassador Mateen K.
9 years of Chinese studies

“After finishing my four-day adventure with my friends in the city Xiamen, I was exuberant about participating in the camp in Shanghai. As I sat on the plane, I mentally prepared myself to meet new people and experience new things. The camp was well-structured. It had the traditional format of breakfast to sightseeing, lunch to more sightseeing to dinner, which most foreign camps have. But it wasn’t the schedule that made the camp special; it was the campers. In the camp, I met a bunch of kids around my age, from all over the world, from New Zealand to Scotland, who I am now good friends with and that I hope to see again in the future.”

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The Youth Ambassadors Program staff, participants, & parents thank the following entity for their generous grant to the 2024 program: The Baltimore Community Foundation‘s Van Buskirk International Exchange Fund.

We also thank the Xiamen Municipal Government’s Foreign Affairs Office and the Anhui Province Department of Education for their in-kind donations.

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Profiles of Past Programs



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