Exchange Matters / June 16, 2022

21st Century Changemakers Advancing DEIA In IVLP Programming

Compiled by Rachel Mintz, Communications Intern, Global Ties U.S. 

Global Ties U.S. members discuss how they are working to further incorporate diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) into exchanges like the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). From facilitating cross-cultural dialogues to expanding access through hybrid programming, community partners The International Center, Global Ties Miami, the World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts, and Charleston Council for International Visitors highlight IVLP projects on topics that include religious tolerance, ethical reporting, and the nuances of language and its connection to culture. 

21st Century ChangeMakers: NexGen Media Exposure Strategies for Ethical and Accountable Reporting 

CBM: Global Ties Miami 

NPA: Meridian International Center 

To left a group sits around a table to right a women is smiling

The visitors met with Liz Rebecca Alarcón (right), Founder and Executive Director of Pulso, in a hybrid meeting. Photo provided by Global Ties Miami.

In May 2022, Global Ties Miami welcomed the program “21st Century ChangeMakers: NexGen Media Exposure Strategies for Ethical and Accountable Reporting.” It was one of the first in-person programs for our organization in two years, and we wanted the visitors to get an idea of the media’s impact in Miami. 

To truly understand the city of Miami, you must be aware of our city’s diversity and multiculturalism. For example, over half of our city population was born in a different country, many from Spanish-speaking countries. We were able to spotlight how local media engages with this large and varied audience with our May IVLP participants.  

The visitors participated in a hybrid meeting with Liz Rebecca Alarcón, Founder and Executive Director of Pulso. Pulso is unique not only because it focuses on the Hispanic and Latinx experience but because it does so in an innovative way. The company developed a code that delivers news directly through Facebook Messenger, making it accessible and user-friendly for those who may not have the time or the capabilities to seek out news on traditional media websites. Its presence on Instagram makes it visible to younger Hispanic audiences, but still easily understandable for older generations. Run by Latinx innovators with intimate knowledge of their community, Pulso is an organization that knows how to utilize social media in a way that makes information accessible to its target audience.  

One insightful topic that came out of the conversation was how Pulso handles hate speech and negativity. This is an issue that affects news organizations around the globe, and our visitors had experience with it first-hand. Liz revealed that Pulso encourages constructive discussions, though when things go too far, Pulso will delete the comments. 

Prior to this meeting, the visitors met with the Knight Foundation and Gallup and learned about its media trust research, including how U.S. audiences consume the media and their general trust in it. By following this meeting with the one at Pulso, you could see how the gears in the visitors’ heads were turning, as they considered how that research is reflected in how organizations share news. Additionally, they received insight into how a local organization was able to reach one of the many communities within Miami.  

Global Ties Miami is excited to resume in-person projects. Having a meeting that highlights the diversity of media and how our community consumes it was an excellent way for us to connect with both our visitors and our local resources once again. It always reminds us that exchanges matter! 

– Tamara Garcia, Director of IVLP Operations 


21st Century ChangeMakers: American Language and Multicultural Diversity 

NPA: Institute of International Education 

CBM: World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts 

Group of people standing outside Merriam-Webster Dictionaries

The first “American Language” project met with lexicographers and editors from Merriam-Webster in 2013. Photo provided by the World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts.

Since 2013, the World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts has hosted several International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) “American Language” projects. Most recently, we hosted the IVLP project “21st Century ChangeMakers: American Language and Multicultural Diversity” for Eurasia, which included participants from Belarus, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Ukraine, and was organized by Sarah Amin with the Institute of International Education. We met with the group virtually twice: in October of 2021 and then again in April of 2022.  

In the fall, the group met with lexicographers and editors from Merriam-Webster to learn how to use a dictionary in the classroom, take advantage of online resources, and understand the history of the English language, or “how it got that way.”   

We were also able to put together a meeting for participants to learn about the U.S. college admissions process for international students, which featured representatives from Springfield College’s admissions office and international center. What we didn’t realize until the meeting started was that the participants had invited about 25 of their students to tune in as well. (Something possible only in the virtual world.) The result was a lively and frank conversation about what a U.S.  university admissions office tends to look for, as well as an amazing rundown of what an international student should expect and say—or what not to say—during their visa interview.  

Zoom Meeting with Springfield College

The IVLP group met with representatives from Springfield College’s Admissions Office, International Center, and School of Education during the program. Photo provided by the World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts.

In April, the teachers met again with representatives from Springfield College, this time with faculty members of the School of Education. The group learned how students are taught about curriculum development and classroom management and how students are prepared for licensure. They also met with an English teacher from a Springfield public school, who spoke frankly about the ups and downs of teaching students with varying levels of support at home and the challenges of COVID.  

Dedicated word nerds might want to check out Merriam-Webster’s podcast created in conjunction with our local public radio and TV affiliate, NEPM, Word Matters. An episode on bi-lingual dictionaries references a touching moment during our first IVLP American Language project when an Ivorian visitor brought a French-English dictionary “home.”  

– Cynthia Melcher, Executive Director 


CBM: Charleston Council for International Visitors 

Zoom meeting with the visitors

The visitors met with Simanique Moody, Ph.D. of the City University of New York to discuss cultural history, symbolism, and other nuances. Photo provided by the Charleston Council for International Visitors.

In October 2021, the Charleston Council for International Visitors was pleased to assist in virtual programming for the project “21st Century ChangeMakers: American Language & Multicultural Diversity,” working with the Institute of International Education.

Key objectives for this project included enhancing participants’ understanding of U.S. culture and history as the context for English-language education and showcasing the regional and ethnic variations of English-language dialects within the United States.

In support of these objectives, visitors met with Simanique Moody, Ph.D. of the City University of New York. The meeting focused on the cultural history, symbolism, and other nuances of African American Vernacular English and the Gullah language in the United States. A Charleston Council for International Visitors contact based at the University of South Carolina was able to make a connection with Professor Moody, highlighting the expanded possibilities of exchange when unrestricted by geography and supported by a spirit of shared interests and community. 

– Noah Koubenec, Director 

21st Century Changemakers: Bolstering Religious Freedom

CBM: The International Center 

NPA: World Learning 

Group holding up letters to form IVLP in front of Indy sign.

The International Center hosted its first in-person IVLP program in over two years. Photo provided by The International Center.

The International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) project “21st Century ChangeMakers: Bolstering Religious Freedom” demonstrated the value of face-to-face conversations and the serendipitous nature of in-person programming that can come along with IVLP groups. After meeting virtually in November 2021, our visitors from Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Uzbekistan, met in person in May 2022.

The virtual component of this group’s experience helped establish connections and start a conversation with the Center for Interfaith Cooperation (CIC), helping the visitors gain an understanding of religious freedom and its connections to Indiana and the United States. The in-person visit, originally planned for January, was pushed back by the reality of the pandemic. After months of waiting, and in the pleasant spring weather rather than a snowy January day, there was palpable joy in being able to welcome these 21st Century ChangeMakers as our first in-person group in over two years. 

The group’s schedule of professional meetings with religious leaders, professors, researchers, and prosecutors allowed for exceptional moments of connection and provided useful information that they could take back to their home countries. Two participants noted the usefulness of content discussed with the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, and the group expressed appreciation for the free online materials received from Indiana-Purdue University of Indianapolis (IUPUI)’s Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture (RAAC). RAAC was also appreciative of the chance to meet this group, expressing an interest in staying in contact with our visitors in order to expand their own libraries of information and points of contact for religious study. 

A group sits around a table listening to a video or online presentation.

The IVLP project included meetings with religious leaders, professors, researchers, and prosecutors. Photo provided by The International Center.

Attending the Eid al-Fitr celebration on Monday, May 2, provided a wonderful opportunity, not only for our visitors but also for our own staff, to be reminded further of the great diversity in Indiana. This event was described as “eye-opening” by some of our guests as the worshipping traditions of a range of different branches of Islam, practiced by people with ties to a range of different regions of the world, were seen during this gathering at Grand Park.  

In addition to the group’s pre-planned meetings, they ran into Mayor Joe Hogsett giving a speech on Monument Circle, our Deputy Mayor Judith Thomas accompanying a Haitian delegation in the Global Village Welcome Center, the Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears during a site visit to learn about the Marion County Hate Crimes Hotline, and State Senator Fady Qaddoura at an Iftar dinner at the Al Huda Mosque. Spontaneous connections and conversations were sparked as the group viewed the state capital building and attended a Baptist Church service. The group encountered Hoosier hospitality in action when seeing a familiar face at the Eid celebration: a woman and her family who recently worked with our relocation team to move to Indianapolis, and who also serves on the board of the CIC. 

Hospitality, friendship, cooperation, and learning were shown to be bolstered by strong religious freedom during this IVLP visit. This group’s experience in Indiana was impactful, inspiring, and educational for all involved. The return to in-person programming was a joy, and we’re excited for what comes next. 

– Andrew Carringer, IVLP Intern