On the evening of April 20th, local high school students from the Willamette Academy and high school students visiting from Bosnia and Herzegovina gathered for the second-annual Youth Leadership Festival in Salem, Oregon. This championship debate was organized by the IDEA and Willamette University at the John C. Paulus Great Hall, where peers, family, and community members gathered to support the debaters. Judges from the Oregon State Court of Appeals also attended to adjudicate the debate, who included Honorable Jack L. Landau, Honorable Robert Wollheim, Honorable David Schuman, and Honorable Darleen R. Ortega.
The Youth Leadership Festival featured the debate topic, "The United Nations should abolish capital punishment." The affirmative team consisted of one student from Bosnia and Herzegovina and two students from the Willamette Academy, and the opposition team consisted of two students from Bosnia and Herzegovina and one from the Willamette Academy. After compelling arguments from both teams, the judges adjourned to make their decision. With much deliberation, they returned with praises for each team, but announced the affirmative team as the winners. The two Willamette Academy students from the winning team were awarded trips to the 2010 IDEA Youth Forum in the Netherlands this summer.
The festival also marked the finale of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Youth Leadership Program, and the students gave a presentation about their time in the United States. Since arriving on March 26th, participants have resided with local host families while attending the Civic Education and Leadership Institute taught by Willamette University professors. The program is supplemented with activities such as community service projects and visits to local high schools, cultural sites, and events.
After the festival, the Bosnia and Herzegovina participants said goodbye to their host-families, and presented them with flowers, cards and tears of thanks. They departed for the concluding portion of the program, a trip to the United States capital, Washington, DC. The participants will then return home on April 25th well-equipped to lead the next generation of their country.
Organized by IDEA, Willamette University, and the U.S. Department of State, the program selects eighteen students and three teachers from Bosnia and Herzegovina to come to the United States during the month of April to explore the meaning behind active democratic citizenship.