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ECA Blog

In 2021, amidst the pause in in-person exchange programs due to the pandemic, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) launched a new, innovative International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) special initiative called A Global Moment in Time.

Harnessing the flexibility of the digital environment, ECA extended A Global Moment in Time past the typical two-to-three-week duration of an IVLP exchange. The initiative’s new “hybrid” model included a two-week virtual exchange program in 2021, a virtual bridge period of sustained engagement, and a two week in-person program approximately a year later.

Timeline for A Global Moment in Time IVLP

The initiative, composed of three exchange participant cohorts, explored pressing societal issues – the role of the media during the pandemic, efforts to foster peace and justice, and reflections on diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA). With more than 200 participants from over 90 countries, the cohorts included international photojournalists, educators, conflict resolution experts, legal professionals, human rights advocates, and more.

To kick off the 2021 virtual program, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken welcomed the participants and encouraged them to form connections and engage with colleagues who have different backgrounds and perspectives on their shared challenges. Participants joined online meetings, customized workshops, and panel discussions with American professional counterparts from all corners of the United States.

After the two-week virtual program, the participants were invited to take part in a virtual bridge  period designed to maintain continuity between their 2021 program and upcoming in-person experience. Each group’s virtual bridge spanned about one year and provided participants with enriching opportunities to learn more about U.S. history and culture, showcase their work, and strengthen a sense of community within their cohort. Aua Baldé, a participant from Portugal and member of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances said, “It’s incredible to have the opportunity to be in a program where we have the world open to us, where we get to learn from colleagues from everywhere and see, and be inspired by, the incredible work that everyone is doing.”

A Global Moment in Time participants Sandra Schildwächter from Germany and Natalia Pedraza Bravo from Colombia at the start of their in-person IVLP exchange. [Photo Credit: Sami Alramyan]

In the fall of 2022, A Global Moment in Time participants of the first cohort travelled to the United States for their in-person program. The other two cohorts followed early in 2023. Finally meeting face-to-face, many were excited to speak and connect with their fellow participants, program implementors, and their American counterparts. As Philipp Aigner, a participant from Germany said, “The closer you get to know each other and the more you talk about what you’re doing in your specific countries, the better you develop an understanding that each of us is doing a very important job. And this feeling of not being alone, of having the same goal as someone from an African country, from a Southeast Asian country, from a South American country, it brings the world together, but it brings people together.”

Following keynote remarks, Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for the Department of State, meets with A Global Moment in Time participants. [Photo Credit: State Department Photo]

Although A Global Moment in Time concluded in February 2023, the collaborative impacts continue to grow. For example, following their virtual meeting with Susan Moeller, Director of the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda at the University of Maryland, participants Margaret Burin from Australia, Mankica Kranjec from Slovenia, Sami Jarwan from Jordan, and several others from their group were inspired to join together and publish “Homes of Hope ,” a global photography project documenting the stories and outlooks of families in at least 25 countries during the pandemic.

Participation in A Global Moment in Time also led to the photo exhibit, “Ukraine, Stories of Resistance ,” which featured a powerful collection of photographs from the war in Ukraine. This exhibit was organized by participants Arianna Arcara from Italy and Mikhail Palinchak from Ukraine, with support from the U.S. Consulate General in Milan, the Municipality of Milan, and the Consulate General of Ukraine in Milan.

Throughout this initiative, the participants were able to connect with their American counterparts in 29 U.S. cities – both virtually and in-person to share best practices. Applying what they learned from these connections and from the overall exchange experience, more than 25 of the participants implemented IVLP Impact Awards  projects upon return home to their countries.

Photo of the “A Global Moment in Time: Through the Lens of IVLP Participants” photobook, a publication developed to support the A Global Moment in Time IVLP initiative. [Photo Credit: Meridian International Center]

To commemorate this unique and expansive initiative, the participants and their American counterparts were encouraged to share their stories and contribute to a photobook documenting experiences across their home communities. The U.S. Department of State partnered with Meridian International Center to develop this publication, titled “A Global Moment in Time: Through the Lens of IVLP Participants,” available on ECA’s A Global Moment in Time website. We invite you to take a look at this global photobook and hope that this publication inspires everyone to reach out and work together with those in their communities and around the world to address the shared challenges facing us all, one moment at a time.

ECA also acknowledges the incredible efforts of the program’s IVLP partner organizations and International Visitor Liaisons in making this exchange initiative possible. A special thank you to Citizen Diplomacy International Philadelphia, Cleveland Council on World Affairs, Colorado Springs World Affairs Council, International Citizen Diplomacy of Los Angeles, International Institute of Wisconsin, Institute of International Education (IIE), Georgia Council for International Visitors (GCIV), Global Minnesota, Global New Orleans, GlobalPittsburgh, Global Santa Fe, Global Ties Arizona, Global Ties Detroit, Global Ties Kalamazoo, Global Ties Miami, Global Ties San Francisco, Meridian International Center, Presidential Precinct, San Diego Diplomacy Council, Tulsa Global Alliance, World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth, World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana, World Affairs Council of St. Louis, WorldBoston, WorldChicago, WorldDenver, World Learning, WorldOregon, WorldOrlando, World Partnerships, Inc., and World Trade Center Institute.

About the Author: Ava D’Sa is the Communications and Outreach Manager for the Office of International Visitors in the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs.

U.S. Department of State

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