Exchange Matters / December 15, 2020

One Final Celebration for 80 Years of IVLP

by Diane Crow, Senior Advisor, Office of International Visitors, U.S. Department of State 

In a fitting finale to the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) 80th anniversary celebrations, the Office of International Visitors hosted My IVLP Moment on December 9 to reflect on the IVLP’s eight decades of impact and look forward to its future.

Over the past year, we have been sharing 80 Faces of Exchange to highlight the lives and careers of IVLP alumni and the impact of their exchange programs on their communities and the world. Alumni Saad Abid (Morocco), Raisa Banfield (Panama), Pawan Ghimire (Nepal), Anouk Vos (Netherlands), and Michael Zantovsky (Czech Republic) shared their stories of how the IVLP inspired and impacted their careers and communities—from ethical hacking, to freedom of the press, to ocean and rainforest conservation, to disability rights and inclusion.

IVLP alumnus and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair shared how his IVLP experience expanded his idea of the United States beyond Washington, DC and New York, and helped shape him as a politician and prime minister. As he said in his remarks, “You can’t be a successful political leader of your own country unless you know something about the world and other countries.” That is what our Network successfully accomplishes—providing future world leaders the ability to know something about the United States.

The IVLP has longstanding bipartisan support from Congress, and at the celebration four congressional representatives—Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Jim Himes (D-CT), and Michael McCaul (R-TX)—underscored the critical role that IVLP plays in providing an opportunity for emerging global leaders to experience the richness and diversity of the United States and for American communities to  expand their global connections.

For the past 80 years, the IVLP has brought something special to our entire Network.  It has given each community access to individuals who are changing the world.  As our world contends with a pandemic, at a time when many of us need to focus on something positive, the IVLP will continue to build bridges as we usher in the next decade.