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    Welcome to our 4th International Youth Leadership Conference. When we first started this conference, we weren’t sure how it would turn out. We knew we had a great idea, and a great group of dedicated people to organize the event, and an even better group of students to plan for. But we also had a great challenge before us – no one had ever done something like this before.

    There certainly are plenty of student leadership conferences to model from, but none that put Emergent Bilingual students at the center. We put you in the spotlight and you did not hesitate to show the world that you are as thoughtful, vibrant and talented as any group of students out there.

    And you did not shy away from telling us how we could do better the following year.

    Your representatives in the High School Leadership council have proven that you can do more than just show up to the Conference – you can host your peers, you can emcee the ceremonies, you have plenty of talents to share, you can strut your stuff in the fashion show, you can facilitate workshops and you can make formal presentations to School Administrators and VIPs. And even as participants, your appreciation of the opportunity and active engagement during the workshops have motivated facilitators and exhibitors to ask to be invited back each year.

    Which is what brings us to Portland State University today. When PSU first offered to host this year’s IYLC, we knew that it wasn’t because they simply wanted to be part of a great event. The job of the Professors and Administrators here at PSU, is to anticipate the knowledge and skills that our society will need for the next several generations. They see a world that will need accountants who speak Oromo, science educators fluent in Kareni, and Arabic-speaking civil engineers, just to name a few. And to make their vision a reality, they see all of you applying to be full-time students and eventually graduates of PSU.

    PPS and PSU share a clear vision of you leading us into the future. We need your eagerness to adopt new ways of seeing the world; we need your ability to utilize the resources around you to produce something completely new and unique; we need your skill at navigating multiple cultures while still honoring your roots in your communities.

    Our challenge for you is to take the talents and skills you have in you right now and envision an even better future for yourselves than we ever could.

    Because every day, each of you, is doing something great that has never been done before.


    Keynote Speaker

    Tamam Waritu

    Youth Motivational Speaker and Trainer


    Born in a tiny village in Ethiopia, East Africa, Tamam grew up in deep poverty and hardship. After coming to America at the age of 16 where he leaned the first word of English, he and his siblings lived in a low-income government apartment with food-stamp as their main source of income. Despite his circumstances, he was able to overcome his challenges through hard work and perseverance and went on to receive his Graduate Degree from Harvard.

    Today, Tamam uses his inspirational story to empower thousands of youth to believe that they can achieve great things despite their obstacles. Tamam believes that obstacles should be the greatest motivating factor in our life, not used as an excuse for failure.

    He’s spoken at Universities such as Harvard & Princeton as well as many other institutions and youth leadership conferences. Tamam has worked with groups of educators, parents, and practitioners. He has spoken to thousands of teens and trained hundreds of student leaders. His ultimate goal is to inspire as many young people as possible and help adults make a positive impact on the lives of teens, particularly low-income and ESL students.

    Tamam lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife Tiya and his son Amir.


International Youth Leadership Conference 2/19/16