Ten people posing for photo on bench (State Dept./D.A. Peterson)
Awardees, most of whom wore traditional dress to honor their countries or heritage, left to right: Ece Çiftçi from Turkey; Diovio Alfath from Indonesia in a traditional tenun; Nancy Herz from Norway in an Arabic kaftan to represent her Lebanese heritage; Isasiphinkosi Mdingi from South Africa in traditional dress of the Xhosa people; Firuz Yogbekov from Tajikistan in a hat of the Pamir region; Sara Abdullah Abdulrahman from Iraq in Kurdish clothes; José Rodríguez from Panama in the "Congo" dress of the Colón Province and bare feet and face paint to celebrate African ancestors; Zina Salim Hassan Hamu from Lithuania in Yazidi dress; Tanzil Ferdous from Bangladesh in a Jamdani saree; and Dania Hassan from Pakistan in a shalwar kameez. (State Dept./D.A. Peterson)

A photojournalist who documents the plight of a religious minority in Iraq, an educator who brings science skills to Latin America’s underprivileged, and an advocate for women who uses social media to speak out against sexual assault in South Africa.

They and seven other change makers are visiting the United States, where their work is gaining recognition and where they are networking with experts in hopes of building further success.

The State Department honored the 10 emerging leaders at a May 2 ceremony in Washington. They were cited for promoting peace and creating opportunities for the disadvantaged. They will spend two weeks in the U.S. sharing their stories and learning from experts and each other before returning home.


Tanzil Ferdous (Courtesy photo)
Tanzil Ferdous (Courtesy photo)

Tanzil Ferdous, 24, encourages young people to volunteer in their communities to deter them from extremism and to protect Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh from violence.


Diovio Alfath (Courtesy photo)
Diovio Alfath (Courtesy photo)

Diovio Alfath, 23, advocates for the rights of minority groups in Jakarta. He created a guidebook with legal and emergency contacts for religious, ethnic and racial minorities.


Close-up of Sara Abdullah Abdulrahman (Courtesy photo)
Sara Abdullah Abdulrahman (Courtesy photo)

Sara Abdullah Abdulrahman, 21, leads a Kirkuk-based volunteer group promoting peaceful coexistence of people from different backgrounds — including returning displaced persons.


Zina Salim Hassan Hamu with camera in front of tents (Courtesy photo)
Zina Salim Hassan Hamu (Courtesy photo)

Zina Salim Hassan Hamu, 21, after personally witnessing the genocide of Yazidi girls by ISIS, used her photojournalism skills to amplify the plight of Iraq’s Yazidi minority.


Close-up of Nancy Herz (Courtesy photo)
Nancy Herz (Courtesy photo)

Nancy Herz, 21, is a human rights activist who advocates for less restrictive gender roles for women. She co-authored a book, Shameless, on negative social control of girls.


Dania Hassan holding trophy and book (Courtesy photo)
Dania Hassan (Courtesy photo)

Dania Hassan, 18, established Fun to Learn, which programs extracurricular activities on health, emergency preparedness and other issues in underprivileged schools in Pakistan.


José Rodríguez (Courtesy photo)
José Rodríguez (Courtesy photo)

José Rodríguez, 20, is a director of Ayudinga, an educational platform that provides free lessons in math and science and is improving the quality of education throughout Latin America.

South Africa

Isasiphinkosi Mdingi sitting with other people and gesturing (Courtesy photo)
Isasiphinkosi Mdingi (Courtesy photo)

Isasiphinkosi Mdingi, 23, is a social-media influencer who uses her platform to speak out against sexual assault, gender-based violence and the victimization of women and girls.


Firuz Yogbekov (Courtesy photo)
Firuz Yogbekov (Courtesy photo)

Firuz Yogbekov, 21, volunteers for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and, using debating skills, raises subjects such as violent extremism and domestic violence.


Ece Çiftçi with three young children (Courtesy photo)
Ece Çiftçi (Courtesy photo)

Ece Çiftçi, 24, founded the SosyalBen Academy in Istanbul, which has helped train more than 60,000 young people in eastern Turkey in social responsibility.