Exchange Matters / March 17, 2021

2021 Photo Contest

Congratulations to the following individuals whose stellar images captured the spirit and impact of international exchange programs across the United States. These eight photos were recognized by the 2021 Photo Contest Judging Committee—Akintunde Akinmade, Graduate School USA; Christian Caudill, Global Ties U.S.; Maureen Githae, IIE; and Ashley Yu, U.S. Department of State—for their powerful depiction of citizen diplomacy and international exchange. The 2021 Exchanges Photo Contest received nearly 100 submissions from exchange participants, programmers, and partners across the United States, and from several alumni overseas. Thank you to all who submitted images.

Best Overall Photo: Speak Up for Diversity

International Visitors from Ethiopia, St. Lucia, and Kenya are interviewed by a Salt Lake City, Utah news station about their IVLP experience and the power of diversity.

Program: IVLP – Volunteerism and Civic Action, January 2020

Submitted by: Gary Crofts, Program Officer, Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy


Most Artistic Photo: In America I Am Free to Fly

An IVLP participant from the United Republic of Tanzania wanted her picture taken with these wings here in Orlando after the meeting with The LGBTQ+ Center Orlando. For the short time in the United States, she said she felt freedom unlike what is granted to her in her home country.

Program: IVLP – Human and Civil Rights for Marginalized Communities, December 2019

Submitted by: Heather van Dyk, Project Manager, WorldOrlando

Taken by: Bill St. John


Best Community Connections Photo: Global Economic Collaboration at the San Antonio Rodeo

Wow, this group of International Visitors really have stretched my participation in San Antonio. We took on the SA Rodeo: bought cowboy hats, attended a rock concert, and saw some amazing rodeo rides, and bull takedowns. The opportunity has connected me with friends from ten different parts of the world. 

Submitted by: Christopher Herring, Board Member, San Antonio Council for International Visitors


Best Group Photo: Get Out the Vote

In one of the last in-person IVLP’s of 2020, this group of young European leaders on a program on the “U.S. Electoral Process” met with local election board officials in Hyattsville, MD. The participants knew more about U.S. elections than a lot of the Americans they met with!

Program: IVLP – The U.S. Electoral Process

Submitted by: Leesa Fields, International Visitor Liaison


Best Home Hospitality Photo: The World Is My Family

This home hospitality meal featured visitors working to improve the prison system in Brazil. It just happened to be one of the participant’s birthdays. After searching through our hosts’ kitchen drawers for the perfect birthday candles, we settled on a giant #3 and #7 for the cupcakes lovingly provided by our hosts. Together our group laughed all night and sang the Happy Birthday song in 5 languages: Portuguese, Turkish, Arabic, Spanish, and English.

Program: IVLP – Brazil, Prison System Improvement, November 2019

Submitted by: Sel Buyuksarac, Board Vice Chair, GlobalJax


Best Professional Meeting Photo: Cartoons Beyond Borders

2019 Political Cartooning regional project group meeting with Politico cartoonist Matt Wuerker. The international visitors were so excited to meet him and there was clear mutual respect. It was amazing to see what transcends borders through their art.

Submitted by: Taylor Smith, IVLP Operations Manager, Meridian International Center

Program: IVLP: Political Cartooning


Best Sports Diplomacy Photo: Joining Together 

International visitors from Russia join together with the University of Arizona Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team for a game.

Program: Disability Rights

Submitted by: Pat Watson, Executive Director, Citizen Diplomacy Alliance


Best Civic Engagement Photo: Give a Shout for Equality

Submitted by: Gary Crofts, Program Officer, Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy

An International Visitor from Zimbabwe, along with another from Latvia, takes to the megaphone to lead local Utahans in protest chants in a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day march for racial equality on the streets of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Program: IVLP – Volunteerism and Civic Action, January 2020