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Metro Atlanta Students Flying High and Far

Maynard Jackson Youth Foundation Sends Ambassadors to Spain

By Lajenine T. Wilson Contributing Writer | 7/19/2013, 1:02 p.m.
Brooke Jackson Edmond and Virgil Murray.

Excitement is building as Atlanta area high school students prepare to take their leadership skills abroad.

From July 22nd to the 31st, 11 rising seniors involved with the Maynard Jackson Youth Foundation (MJYF) will get the chance to serve as international student ambassadors in one of the most beautiful countries in the world: Spain.

“We selected Spain for its rich culture,” said Virgil Murray, Executive Director for the MJYF. “It’s not only a beautiful place to visit, but it has a compelling history that’s extremely important for what we are trying to accomplish with these students.”

Selected through an application and essay process, many of the students will be traveling abroad for the first time; making their journey to the Spanish hillsides, villas and museums even more exciting.

“The Spanish language and the culture are a big part of our American culture today,” said Murray. “Often times, we are unaware of what’s going on in other parts of the world because we haven’t seen it first-hand. So we really hope this will be an eye-opening experience for all of our students.”

Founded in 1992 by the late Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson, the MJYF seeks to prepare young people for roles in leadership by exposing them to opportunities that require strong character, decision-making and leadership abilities.

Now led by Jackson’s daughter, Brooke Jackson Edmond, the organization continues to play a key role in leading Atlanta area high school students toward greatness by teaching them the skills they need to succeed in positions of power and influence.

“Well Maynard’s initial concept in starting the foundation was to provide an opportunity for young people to learn what it takes to be a real leader,” said Edmond. “He wanted them to learn how to communicate with people, how to listen critically and how to think critically.”

Their upcoming trip to Spain, Edmond said, will give students with the MJYF the opportunity to do just that.

“As student ambassadors these students will not only represent this country,” said Edmond. “But they will connect with other students who represent their country to see what leadership skills they can glean from them before returning home.”

For 17-year-old Taylor Williams, traveling abroad as a student ambassador isn’t an opportunity to be taken lightly.

“It really means a lot to be able to represent my school, as well as the foundation, in this way,” she said.

But the Grady High School student almost missed the chance because she only found out the deadline to submit a qualifying essay the day before it was due.

“It was a long night,” Williams said. “But my mom said, ‘If it’s something you really want, you’ll do whatever it takes to make it happen’, and I did.”

While abroad, the student ambassadors will tour Madrid and visit sites including the Prado and the Royal Palace. They will also make stops in Segovia, Burgos, Bilbao, San Sebastian and Pamplona before ending their trip in Barcelona.

For more information about the Maynard Jackson Youth Foundation, visit their website at www.mjyf.org.