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Puerto Rico: Ten university students on the road to Istanbul for World Youth Congress

By Natalia A. Bonilla-Berríos

PUERTO RICO — From July 31st until August 13th, ten university students will serve as Puerto Rico’s delegates to the 5th World Youth Congress (WYC) in Istanbul, Turkey.

The delegation will attend workshops, conferences and also play a crucial role in action projects under the categories of Young Activists, Young Journalists and Young Artists.

The purpose of the Congress is to promote cultural dialogue between 1,000 representatives of over 100 nations on issues ranging from poverty and human rights to democracy and peace.


“We will have the opportunity to meet other young leaders from around the world who I imagine are just as committed to their countries but with customs, traditions, cultures, languages and ways of doing things differently. I think this will help us work with the different situations facing our own country,” Manuel M. Gavillan said, who will participate under the category of Young Activist.

Keanne Vallejo, 21, who is also participating in the WYC as a Young Activist said that Puerto Ricans are going to Istanbul to “be filled with knowledge and experiences so, later, (can) give voice to the Puerto Rican youth. Because, at the end, we are our Island’s future.”

Besides participating in the program’s debates, the students will work for four days on different action projects that will bring aid to a diverse range of Turkey’s regions. The action projects will be using the UN Millenium Development Goals (MDG) as their guide.

By following the MDG’s vision to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger as well as promoting gender equality and universal primary education by 2015, Cristian Miranda thinks that although the WYC will “awaken the sensibility of each young delegate and break the stereotypes that have prevented a peace culture,” the experience will require a great amount of compromise for people to come to an agreement to work together.

Eight of the ten Puerto Rican delegates chosen to attend the 5th World Youth Congress in Istanbul, Turkey.


The delegation’s trip is sponsored by the Puerto Rican Youth Affairs Office. The other students making the journey to Istanbul are: Andrés W. Walmar Méndez, Gercef Toribio Cardena, Samara Bigay Llenza, Natalia Bigay Llenza, Mario Bigay Llenza, Miguel A. Toro Gutiérrez y Natalia A. Bonilla Berríos.

Peace Child International, Turkey Ministry of State and Istanbul Youth Assembly are the Congress organizers.


Learn more about Natalia


Natalia A. Bonilla Berrios is a junior at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) majoring in Journalism and minoring in Political Science, International Relations. Natalia has a 3.90 GPA.

She was the former president of the UPR student chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, a member of the National Society of Collegiates and Scholars and was selected for the ‘Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges’ program, during her freshman year.

In addition, she has worked as an intern reporter for Diálogo Digital, Puerto Rican Center of Investigative Journalism, served as a staff writer for Paréntesis newspaper, and as a volunteer reporter for IDentidad magazine.

Bonilla has served as student representative for the Freedom of the Press Center of Puerto Rico and has been selected as one of the UWIRE’s Top 100 Student Journalists of 2009.




She was selected for the Student Camp at Unity 2008, the quadrennial Journalists of Color Convention and also, as a volunteer for the 2009 International Year of Astronomy.


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