Announcements / May 2, 2014

Betty Beldsoe of Indianapolis, Indiana Receives Global Ties U.S. Volunteer of the Year Award


WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Global Ties U.S. honored Betty Bledsoe, adoptive mother of 11 special needs children and volunteer with The International Center in Indianapolis, Indiana, with the Lorrine Emery Award for Volunteer Service. The award recognizes a community-based volunteer who demonstrates an enduring dedication to building international understanding as well as an outstanding volunteer spirit. As a home hospitality volunteer, Ms. Bledsoe has acted as an exemplary citizen diplomat by hosting an estimated 200 international exchange program participants for dinner and other activities, such as attending Indiana Pacers basketball games.

Ms. Bledsoe opens up her home to international visitors so that her children can experience the world from their own dining room. Her children do thorough research prior to each visit so they will know all about the countries represented by their guests. They also help prepare, serve and clean up after every meal and often personally make and present gifts to their international guests.

The profound positive impact Ms. Bledsoe and her family have on building international understanding is clear from the international leaders who experience her hospitality first hand. One group leader reflected that “it is not an understatement to say that the three visitors lucky enough to be invited to Ms. Bledsoe’s home may have been changed forever . . . and the humble, but impossibly gracious reception she reserved for the delegation were a true inspiration.” An exchange program participant from Pakistan said “meeting with Betty Bledsoe and her 11… children was the most powerful, life-changing experience I’ve had since I came to the U.S.”

Ms. Bledsoe hosts these international leaders as part of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program. Through short-term visits to the United States, current and emerging foreign leaders in a variety of fields experience this country firsthand, explore best practices, cultivate lasting relationships with their American counterparts, and connect one-on-one with Americans like Ms. Bledsoe. Global Ties U.S. is the nonprofit partner of the U.S. Department of State in implementing the IVLP. The International Center, as a member of Global Ties U.S., conducts the program locally in Indianapolis.

Global Ties U.S. President Jennifer Clinton, Ph.D., said, “Betty and her family embody, in the purest way, the spirit of citizen diplomacy and the profound impact international exchange and people-to-people connections can have in building a more peaceful and prosperous world. We are honored and privileged to recognize Betty Bledsoe and her family with the 2014 Lorinne Emery Award for Volunteer Service.”