Over the last 60 years, the U.S. Department of State has worked with Global Ties U.S. and their Network of community-based non-profit organizations to foster international people-to-people ties through exchange programs such as the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) and a wide variety of educational, cultural, and professional exchange programs in communities across all 50 U.S. states. Through these exchanges, the Department and the Network’s 84 Community-Based Members and eight National Program Agencies have built connections among individuals, communities, and countries, developing generations of international leaders and instilling ties to the American people in the process.
In a typical year, the Network welcomes over 5,000 international exchange participants to U.S. communities big and small, including Akron, Ohio; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Kansas City, Missouri; and Los Angeles, California. The Network invests 10:1 the amount of federal funding received back into the U.S. economy during in-person visits, and engages over 34,000 volunteers in more than 410,000 hours of community service.
Global Ties U.S. celebrated this milestone achievement during its annual National Meeting that took place virtually from March 22 to 26. This year, the National Meeting’s theme was Exchange Matters and connected more than 1,000 U.S. private- and public-sector leaders who partner with the State Department to implement international exchange programs in communities across the United States. Participants heard from Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Matthew Lussenhop during the closing plenary session. Earlier in the week, participants also heard from U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry during the Global Fight Against Climate Change and Environmental Degradation plenary session.
Coming up TODAY at #ExchangeMatters, the #GlobalTies2021 National Meeting:
-Sessions on #CulturalDiplomacy, #intled, global heath & more
-LAST chance to network & meet our 40+ exhibiting partners
-Closing Plenary with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinkenhttps://t.co/X7GZ8rysD1 pic.twitter.com/ynnzIYDTdg
— Global Ties U.S. (@GlobalTiesUS) March 26, 2021
Speaking on the impact of the Global Ties Network, Secretary Blinken remarked to the National Meeting: “You’ve helped develop generations of global leaders and instilled in them lasting ties to the American people and our values.”
Secretary Blinken went on to discuss the efficacy of citizen diplomacy: “While foreign policy is often conducted in conference rooms and government buildings, it’s when people come together in less formal ways – as peers and colleagues, learning new skills together and sharing experiences – that truly lasting connections can be made. And those connections can lead to real change.”
As @SecBlinken said during the closing of #GlobalTies2021, citizen diplomacy is fundamental to achieving so many of our foreign policy priorities. We are grateful to our partners in the @GlobalTiesUS Network for implementing the #IVLP nationwide.https://t.co/FSEbyTZDZq
— IVLP (@StateIVLP) March 26, 2021
Every year, this event provides a forum for non-profit organizations, advocates, and leaders in the international exchange field to gain high-level insights on trends affecting exchange programs. While the National Meeting was conducted online this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the event remained an invaluable opportunity to connect with our IVLP implementing partners and colleagues and celebrate the 60 year anniversary of Global Ties U.S.
Since 1940, the IVLP, with the help of a dedicated network of partner organizations organized under Global Ties U.S., has introduced over 225,000 participants to communities throughout the United States. More than 500 IVLP participants have become heads of state or government and thousands of others have become leaders in their respective fields.
For more information about the Global Ties U.S. National Meeting and to find opportunities to share virtually, visit their website and follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. For more information on the IVLP and its impact, visit the website and follow them on Twitter @StateIVLP.
You can also follow the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs on Twitter @ECAatState and Facebook here for the latest updates on international exchange programs.
Watch the Secretary’s full remarks to the Global Ties U.S. National Meeting here.
About the Author: Ashley Yu currently serves as the Communications and Outreach Manager for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ Office of International Visitors at the U.S. Department of State.