Compiled by Julia Jones, Communications Intern, Global Ties U.S.
This May, the Global Ties Network reflected on media literacy and the importance of people-to-people exchange programs like the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) to make a difference when it comes to countering disinformation and supporting a free and open press. In the snapshots below, Global Ties Iowa highlights an IVLP project on digital technologies and advancements in local educational institutions; International Focus shares a project to strengthen democracy through a free and open press; Global Ties Arizona explores investigative journalism; and Gulf Coast Diplomacy discusses adapting to the changes in the media.
Global Ties Iowa
IVLP: Education in the Digital Age
NPA: Cultural Vistas
By Abby Fowler, Communications Coordinator
From March 12 – 14, Global Ties Iowa hosted a 10-person International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) delegation from the Kyrgz Republic for the project, “Education in the Digital Age.” Their time in eastern Iowa aimed to provide visitors with an understanding of how local educational institutions are governed. Iowa is home to a wide variety of educational organizations, and their visit to eastern Iowa not only supported the program themes, but also exposed the delegation to the geographical diversity of the United States.
The day after their arrival, the group met with the Grant Wood Area Education Agency. This organization is one of nine Area Education Agencies (AEA) in Iowa that provides educational services to local schools. Stacy Behmer, Coordinator of Digital Learning & Media Services, and Bridget Castelluccio, Digital Learning Consultant, taught the visitors about the funding sources that make this program possible and how new technologies are incorporated into classrooms.
Next, the IVLP participants hopped on a bus to the Catherine McAuley Center, an organization that provides resources and education to immigrants and refugees resettling in eastern Iowa. Staff members showed the visitors how a successful resettlement program works, including how ESL (English as a Second Language) classes are administered and how the Center prepares the community for the arrival of refugees.
Their final meeting was with the University of Iowa College of Education. John Achrazoglou, Ph.D., Chief Technology Officer and Global Ties Iowa Board member, taught the visitors about various training and teaching methodologies that are used to prepare the next generation of teachers.
While they were only here for a short time, our visitors found the meetings incredibly valuable and enjoyed having time to explore Iowa City. Additionally, this was the first project planned by our new program intern, Lexi Passno, and we are proud of the great job she did organizing this group!
“We have learned a lot from Iowa. Especially from [the] University of Iowa. [Their] technology is very advanced. We are [so] impressed,” said participant Rakhot Sagyndykova.
Interacting with our volunteers that accompanied them to every meeting was another highlight for the visitors. Said participant Veronika Kutseva, “I do give my sincere appreciation and warm hugs to all the wonderful ladies who volunteered their time and efforts for accompanying our delegation.”
Global Ties Arizona
IVLP: Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists – Research and Investigation
NPA: Institute for International Education
By Paige Holtsclaw, Program Coordinator
In March of this year, Global Ties Arizona partnered with the Institute for International Education to welcome 13 journalists from across Latin America as part of the Edward R. Murrow International Visitor LeadershipProgram for Journalists. This IVLP project focused on research and investigation.
The journalists’ first meeting was with Telemundo Arizona, a local television station in Phoenix that airs programming from the Spanish-language Telemundo network. Telemundo Arizona produces local news expansions focusing on topics that affect Arizona’s Hispanic communities such as education, immigration, border issues, and news from Mexico and around Latin America. The group received a presentation and studio tour from Creative Services Director Ossman Enrique Padilla and Managing Editor and Executive Producer of News, Patricio Gutierrez.
In the afternoon, the group visited SPOT 127’s Youth Media Center. This innovative educational outreach initiative is aimed at serving low-income and at-risk high school students ages 14-18 in the metro Phoenix area. The group was welcomed by Executive Director, Matt Myers, who shared a tour of their East Valley location and an overview of their digital photography, video and audio production, and social media programming. The group also heard from Jennifer Alvarez, a SPOT 127 alumna and bilingual Reporter and Anchor with Happily News out of San Diego, CA, about her time as a SPOT 127 student.
To complete their visit to Phoenix, the group was hosted by Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The journalists were welcomed by the current cohort of Humphrey Fellows who were just completing their 10-month Fellowship with the Cronkite School. The group then participated in a workshop focused around best practices in investigative journalism presented by Professor & Knight Chair in Journalism, Sarah Cohen. As the final activity of the day, the group received a personalized tour of the school and newsroom generously led by Senior Associate Dean and Professor of Practice, Rebecca Blatt.
IVLP: Empowering Sindhi Media to Strengthen Democracy in Pakistan
NPA: World Learning
By Maisie Rising, Program Coordinator
International Focus, in partnership with the U.S. Department of State and World Learning, hosted a group of 10 Sindhi editors and journalists from Pakistan from March 3-9, 2023. The project, titled “Empowering Sindhi Media to Strengthen Democracy in Pakistan,” aimed to provide training and learning opportunities to the group. The Sindhi vernacular press is historically known for challenging government narratives but has faced challenges in recent years due to government pressure, self-censorship, and financial instability. The project’s goal was to enable the group to better cover sensitive issues, fight corruption, and hold government bodies accountable.
During their visit to Research Triangle Park, the group met with various media outlets and organizations including NC Policy Watch, PBS North Carolina Black Issues Forum, and the University of North Carolina Hussman School of Journalism. The group also met with Enlace Latino NC, the state’s first digital media outlet in Spanish that covers politics, government, immigration, and community affairs in North Carolina.
During the meeting, Co-Founders and Editors Paola Jaramillo and Walter Gómez, discussed issues facing the Latino Immigrant community in North Carolina. The meeting provided insights for the journalists on empowering vulnerable communities and enabling access to information among marginalized groups and was an opportunity for the visitors to draw parallels and consider using similar techniques to empower Sindhi-language media and their community back home. Following the meeting, the delegation gifted an Ajrak scarf to the speakers as a symbol of gratitude. The block printed scarf is a Sindhi tradition dating back over 5,000 years.
Gulf Coast Diplomacy
IVLP: Education in the Digital Age
NPA: Cultural Vistas
By Jena Mélançon, Founder and Executive Director
In March 2023, we crafted two days of programming with Paul Champaloux at Cultural Vistas to welcome a group of International Visitor Leadership Program participants from the Kyrgyz Republic on a project titled, “Education in the Digital Age.” The project included five meetings and site visits.
At Pensacola City Hall, a council member briefed the group on the Florida Sunshine Law after welcoming them to the area. At a meeting with members of the county school board, the visitors explored curriculum development and the operations of a local school district. They also discussed how educators adapted during the pandemic and integrated technology into their educational approach. The visitors then met with professors at the University of West Florida to explore how they integrate e-learning at the university level and to examine how new technologies impact student learning.
A site visit to the Pensacola MESS Hall highlighted a hands-on approach to STEM education, and a visit to the West Florida School of Advanced Technology incorporated time in the school’s multimedia academy. The school visit included observation of classrooms and time to discuss the role of technology with educators.
Reflecting on the changes of the past few years was valuable to our local professionals and allowed them to compare notes amongst themselves and with the visitors from the Kyrgyz Republic. “Exchanges impact” is not just a catchy phrase, it is an on-the-ground reality each and every day wherever IVLP participants meet their professional counterparts across the United States.