“In these challenging times, we can all agree that the renewal of in person exchanges and the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) is more important than ever. Our programs are essential for safeguarding the long-term goals of people-to-people diplomacy to support peace and prosperity in the United States and all around the globe. ” — Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Lee Satterfield at the Global Ties U.S. National Meeting
It’s been more than two years since American citizen diplomats have been able to host emerging leaders from around the world in their homes and communities. And though the State Department’s community partners across the United States continued to facilitate impactful people-to-people diplomacy programs virtually — from strengthening networks amongst businesswomen in Belarus and Chicago to using virtual reality to lead Egyptian publishers on American college campus tours — now, America’s vast citizen diplomacy network is eager to connect in-person once again.
From arranging an online photojournalism @StateIVLP project to hosting virtual cooking demonstrations for Thanksgiving, @GlobalTiesUS members found creative ways to connect while staying thousands of miles apart. Thank you for your work facilitating citizen-to-citizen diplomacy. https://t.co/VQv4lzrQgf
— Bureau of Global Public Affairs (@GPA_AS) March 17, 2022
In March, the Global Ties U.S. National Meeting reunited more than 300 people representing the Global Ties Network and the U.S. Department of State to strategize on how to move exchanges forward. The Global Ties Network is made up of implementers of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program that over the last 81 years has introduced 225,000 international visitors to every American state. Participants were able to gain high-level insights on trends impacting the international exchange field and build networks to strengthen international exchange programs.
With the theme of Moving Exchange Forward, the National Meeting workshops focused on connecting exchange programs to current foreign policy priorities and best practices for returning to in-person programming while incorporating Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) initiatives. U.S. Deputy Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Constance Mayer spoke to attendees and emphasized the Department’s commitment to making real change in workforce hiring, promotion, and retention practices.
Attendees also appreciated messages of collaboration, partnership, and the importance of promoting democracy around the world from leaders across the Department of State. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s video message reminded attendees that, “when we team up with people tackling similar challenges in other parts of the world, we gain new tools, new insights, and new perspectives.”
Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Lee Satterfield shared that Global Ties U.S. Community-Based Member organizations, “are our greatest strength in helping us carry out the mission of our bureau. Partnership with you allows us to reach diverse groups in cities and states across the U.S. — it is essential in showing how foreign policy works to serve Americans.”
Each year, Global Ties U.S. recognizes leaders in citizen diplomacy and international exchange for outstanding work in the field. Disability rights activist Susan Sygall and Washington, D.C.-based organization Life Pieces to Masterpieces received the 2022 Global Ties U.S. Citizen Diplomat Award for their deep commitment to public diplomacy and their social impact on communities worldwide. IVLP Alumni Mehwish Abbasi of Pakistan and Adrian Lasimbang of Malaysia received the 2022 Global Ties U.S. IVLP Alumni Award for Social Innovation and Change for their work in empowering marginalized communities to create equitable and inclusive strategies to address climate change — an initiative that was a direct result of their IVLP experiences.
We encourage you to get involved and expand your world with international exchange. Visit eca.state.gov/ivlp or the Global Ties U.S. website at globaltiesus.org to learn more. See what people shared about the 2022 Global Ties U.S. National Meeting on Twitter at #ExchangeForward and #GlobalTies2022.
Full remarks from Secretary Blinken, Assistant Secretary Satterfield, Deputy Mayer, and the 2022 awardees may be viewed here.
About the Author: Megan Brennan is a Virtual Student Federal Service intern in the press office for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs