Twelve (12) Filipino-American youth aged 18-25 years from the different states in the US Midwest participated in a face-to-face interaction with Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) offi cials as part of the activities for the 2nd US Midwest Youth Leaders in Diaspora Immersion Program in the Philippines (Midwest You-Lead II) which took place on January 3-9, 2020 in Manila, Bulacan and Nueva Ecija. The program is a joint project of the Philippine Consulate General in Chicago and the Commission of Filipinos Overseas (CFO), now on its 2nd edition, which aimed at providing Filipino-American youths from the US to rediscover their Filipino roots and gained better understanding of their Filipino identity and their motherland. The twelve young participants were Angelica Alday, Madeline Azcueta, Ralph Balita, Celia Benito, Christopher Garrick, Jasmine Natividad and Christiana Santiago, all from Illinois; Mary Nicole Cabaluna from Indiana, Makayla Leiting from Nebraska; Nicholle Nacionales from Minnesota; and Isabelle Rivera and Marcus Villareal from Ohio.
On January 8, the Midwest delegates accompanied by Consul General Gina Jamoralin and CFO YouLead staff, Ms. Mayumi Peralta and Jovian Bulawan were received by Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Strategic Communications and Research, Ernesto C. Abella for courtesy call and briefi ng. OAA Assistant Secretary Isleta opened the program by welcoming the delegates. Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Abella talked about the Filipino identity and roots. He asked each one of their impressions and the reasons for joining the immersion trip. The participants were also briefed on assistance-to-nationals (ATN) and humanitarian activities of the Philippine foreign service posts by Principal Assistant Atty. Sandra C. Guiang, of the Offi ce of Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA). Later in the afternoon, the participants were welcomed at the US Embassy in Manila where US offi cials from the political, economic, cultural and public diplomacy sections briefed them of Embassy activities including programs for young people both in the Philippines and the United States.
All the Midwest You-Lead II participants individually spoke of their impressions and the impact of the immersion program in their lives. These experiences made them feel special and help them reconnect with the country. They promised to help promote the immersion program to their peers back in the US which is a unique and the fi rst of its kind immersion program for the Filipino-American millennials in the Midwest initiated and supported by the Philippine government. END.