They are curious and cast a critical eye on the world. They are News-Decoder’s Student Ambassadors, leading our work in 10 countries on five continents.

By Savannah Jenkins

From Beijing to Bogotá, students are stepping forward to help News-Decoder build a global community of young people eager to tackle big issues that are vexing leaders around the world.

Three dozen students from our partner academic institutions have enlisted as Student Ambassadors — News-Decoder’s representatives who lead our work in 10 countries on five continents.

One of the students has founded a podcast featuring African youth. Another created a youth organization that promotes gun law reform. A third started a club that explores other cultures through tea ceremonies.

The Ambassadors will lead teams of students who will examine critical, global issues through multi-media content published on our website, grouped under the rubric of Themes. This year the topics include Africa, climate change, human rights, the future of democracy, nationalism, the South China Sea, globalization, immigration and nationalism.

The Ambassadors will also help put together teams of students who will debate the issues during exclusive News-Decoder webinars.

These student leaders sit at the heart of News-Decoder’s program, which we revamped earlier this year to reinforce student-driven learning. Typically, the Ambassadors are curious by nature, cast a critical eye on the world around them and demonstrate leadership skills.

At the 17 academic institutions in our network, the Ambassadors will manage teams of students who will assume roles such as News Room Editor, Webinar Director and Discussion Board Moderator.

Here are a few of the Ambassadors:

Adnan Shafi is a second-year student at the African Leadership Academy in South Africa, where he runs a talk show, Sauti Afrika, that highlights young African voices. Sauti Afrika invites young people of different African nationalities to discuss current events and trends on the African continent.

At the Thacher School in California, Daisy Lawrence works on the school newspaper, The Notes, reporting on American politics and partisanship in the United States. Lawrence, in her second-to-last year of high school, founded a club called Political Alliance, which aims to foster an environment of intellectual freedom and challenge students at Thacher to look beyond their own lived experiences.

Ella Steinhilber is spending her last year of high school in France with School Year Abroad before finishing her high school studies at the University School of Nashville. Before coming to France, she co-founded a youth organization that promotes gun law reform in Tennessee.

Sarah Mende, a dual U.S.-Australian citizen, is in her second-to-last year at Miss Porter’s School, where she is co-editor of the school’s literary magazine. Mende works with the U.S. interfaith organization, Compass, which protects the boundaries between religion and government.

In Incheon, South Korea, Naeun (Alexis) Lee has leveraged her language skills to run CI Coligo, a multilingual journalism club that focuses on women’s rights issues. Lee is in her final year at Chadwick International and plans to studying Sociology at university.

Fangyi (Elaine) Wang is a Chinese national in her last year at Westover School in Connecticut. Her passion for learning about other cultures led her to found the Cozy Leaf Club, whose members share their knowledge of tea drinking cultures, at Westover.

Join us in welcoming our Student Ambassadors, and keep up with their work in our Themes section.


Savannah Jenkins joined News-Decoder in January to help expand its network of schools to more countries and to support its partners. She works closely with student ambassadors to raise News-Decoder’s profile on campus and to help the  representatives fulfill their leadership responsibilities. A 2017 graduate of the American University of Paris, she has been accepted into the U.S. Peace Corps and will be starting a two-year stint in Senegal in early 2019.

Categories: Students

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Our Student Ambassadors: Curious and Influential

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