Student Ambassadors at the Science Center

After four very long years, global partners were finally able to come together, in-person, for the first time since 2019 for BTE’s 28th Alliance Building and Training Session (ABTS).

During this annual professional development and networking experience, attendees had the opportunity to meet and reconnect, share local experiences, and learn about successful programs and best practices. Hosted by Johnson & Johnson and FHI 360, this year’s event took place in Montreal, Canada, under the theme, ‘Investing in Today for Tomorrow.’ We were thrilled to bring together 68 representatives from 19 current and alumni BTE sites, including 20 stellar student ambassadors representing active BTE sites across Australia, Brazil, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

ABTS 2023 Investing in Today

Capitalizing on the momentum from being together once again, ABTS was full of non-stop programming that offered partners new strategies, tools, and resources to help enhance and complement their current programs. Top sessions included the Student Ambassador Showcase, Exploring Sustainability, and Student Ambassador Fishbowl sessions. Amplifying and learning from our youth partners was a priority for BTE leadership teams, as well as learning how to plan for programming after the initial three years.

As one attendee shared, “ABTS made me feel inspired, renewed in purpose, and excited to continue our work with the Johnson & Johnson BTE program.”

Another shared, “ABTS makes us all stronger.”

For our student ambassadors, they truly valued the STEM2D in Action coding session where they programmed three different robots, as well as their final challenge where they were tasked with designing a working cable car with simple stationery and craft supplies. Then, they were tasked with presenting their final projects to the global BTE family. The teams did an incredible job not only showcasing their learning but highlighting their teamwork and support of one another throughout the ABTS experience overall.

Student Ambassador Team work

One student ambassador shared, “ABTS pushes you out of your comfort zone but doesn’t make you feel lost. With all the support given, every accomplishment seemed really simple.”

To see the professional development and growth of the student ambassadors, matched with the resilience and comradery displayed, there was not a dry eye in the room at the conclusion of this year’s conference. Student Ambassador Yerlin O. may have said it best,

“ABTS is a once-in-a-lifetime wonderful opportunity for anybody in BTE… It is 100% worth it. I made a brand-new family with people I would have never dreamed of.”

Throughout ABTS, the energy was palpable. One attendee described the event, “the experience was so powerful. The engagement, passion, and human connection unbeatable.” ABTS was more than an event: it was an experience. Attendees report feeling inspired, empowered, and supported, but more importantly, all saw the value that coming together will ultimately have on BTE participants globally. There is no doubt that all partners are Invested in Today for Tomorrow.

ABTS 2023 Team Huddle

On behalf of Johnson & Johnson and FHI 360, our sincerest thanks and gratitude to this year’s ABTS attendees. Your willingness to share innovative strategies that have led to local successes, to be vulnerable in capturing challenges and limitations that have stood in the way, and most of all, your genuine commitment and passion for the BTE program and youth we serve, have all led to a successful, meaningful, and motivating ABTS to remember.