International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Meet the Students Behind Youth Voices

For the past five summers, the IRC in San Diego has offered the Ambassador Youth Program, an intensive 6 week academic program for area high school students to learn about refugees,  the countries they came from, the reasons they left their country, and the journey they took to arrive in San Diego.   Throughout  the course, participants watched films, met refugee youth and adults, and learned about the culture of the refugees in San Diego.

After completing the program, several of the youth have remained committed to the cause of refugees and have requested to share their writings about refugees with the greater San Diego community. 

Please meet:

Beth Desta

I am a senior in high school at Francis Parker School. I was born in San Diego, California but both of my parents were born and raised in Ethiopia. They both left Ethiopia fleeing violent revolution, and eventually came to California where they raised my older brother and me.

My family's background as refugees is why I am interested in the work that the IRC does, and why I first got involved with the IRC as a part of the 2013 Youth Ambassador Program. At school, I am a part of two of the school magazines, mainly as an art and photo editor, as photography is an interest of mine.

In the future I hope to study either photography and art or international relations.

Natalia Semeraro

I am a senior at San Diego High School of International Studies and am currently completing my IB Diploma. Even though I just started working with the IRC this past summer as part of the Youth Ambassador Program, I have been admiring the organization for a while at the City Heights Farmers’ Market every Saturday.

In addition to volunteering for the IRC, I love running, being outdoors, cooking, speaking French, and learning


Steven Franca

Hello everybody! I am a junior at St. Augustine High School in North Park. I have been actively involved in the IRC Club at our school since the beginning of my sophomore year. Our teacher, who is in charge of the club, informed us about the IRC Youth Ambassador Program, which I participated in this past summer. This program was a lot of fun and I learned about current situations around the world regarding the everyday life of refugees. 

I also enjoy playing baseball and the guitar. Hopefully you will enjoy all the things I will write about!



Learn more about the IRC Youth Ambassador Program

Back to  the IRC in San Diego