CHCI Vice President of Programs Participates in International Exchange Program in Spain

William Rafael Gil, vice president of CHCI Programs, was selected out of more than 300 applicants to travel to Spain and participate in the prestigious Jovenes Lideres Hispanos Program (Young Hispanic Leaders), a week-long cultural exchange program funded by the Foundation Carolina in collaboration Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A total of 15 individuals were selected to participate in the program, which was held in Madrid and the Autonomous Region of the Basque Country, during the week of May 16-22.

The goal of the program is to increase relations between the U.S. Latino community and Spain to exchange views and ideas with Spanish professionals and experts from various job sectors - corporate, government, media, private, etc. - acquiring general knowledge of the Spanish social, cultural, and economic background.

The participants visited el Palacio de la Moncloa (the Spanish white house), where they met with economic team managing the Spanish financial crisis, as well as in high ranking officials from the Ministry of International Affairs, Ministry of Immigration, as well as the U.S. Ambassador to Spain, the Honorable Alan D. Solomont.

"The ability to get some true insights about the transformational changes Spain has experienced over the past 40 years, from the Franco regime to a democratic and parliamentary style of government, was extremely enlightening," said Gil. "The visit was even more powerful in that we were there during another transitional time, with national elections getting ready to be held under the backdrop of increased social unrest and anti-establishment sentiments, due to the current world-wide economic crisis that has created an over 20 percent unemployment rates.

Individuals also meet with representatives from the banking sector, international development agencies, and representatives of the Spanish press, all within the context of how Spain views the increasing important role the U.S. Hispanic population can and could play into increased international collaborative efforts between the United States and Spain.

"This trip highlighted the tremendous possibilities that exist in increasing ties between the U.S. Hispanic community and Spain," said Gil. "This trip exceeded my expectations."