Throughout November, we’re celebrating the impact of international education and how the Global Ties Network builds partnerships related to language teaching, journalism, higher education, and social media activism. Below, the Dacotah Territory International Visitor Program, GlobalPittsburgh, Pacific & Asian Affairs Council, and the International Institute of Buffalo share with us how participants of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) forged relationships with community partners to accomplish their career development goals.
Dacotah Territory International Visitor Program
By Mike Richardson, Executive Director
IVLP: Teaching English for the Knowledge Economy
NPA: Meridian International Center
Dacotah Territory International Visitor Programs hosted a group of five educators from Timor-Leste in coordination with Meridian International Center’s “Teaching English for the Knowledge Economy” International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) project. The group visited South Dakota from September 14-19 and met with community members in Sioux Falls and Rapid City who work in language teaching.
The group spent the first two days in Sioux Falls meeting and observing English as a Second Language classes, first with the Sioux Falls School District and then with Lutheran Social Services “New American Center.”
The Sioux Falls School System has 2,700 students in grades K through 12 who speak 79 different languages. Our group observed and spoke with administrators, counselors, teachers, and students. One of the counselors spoke with the group in their native language, sparking fascination amongst the visitors There were many questions going both ways which contributed to both the hosts’ and visiting groups’ understanding of each other’s backgrounds and cultures.
The New American Center works with around 800 adults each year, many of whom are refugees, who collectively speak 25 to 45 different languages. The Center connects refugees to resources in the community and helps them become self-sufficient. In addition to resource dissemination, the Center provides English classes, along with classes regarding job skills, social skills, interview preparation, legal topics, and how to adapt to our constantly changing culture. The group observed five different language classes of varying levels and met with the director of the program. The New American Center demonstrated how community members work to incorporate newcomers to the United State and help them reach their full potential through language acquisition.
The visitors finished their tour in Sioux Falls where they met with the team responsible for certifying English as a Second Language Teachers at the University of Sioux Falls. There were productive discussions between the hosts and visitors about continuing contact and exchanging information for fulfilling their common goals.
We all boarded our bus and then headed to Rapid City and the Black Hills. It is a 335-mile drive, and included a stop at the 50-foot-tall Dignity Statue on the hill overlooking the Missouri River, which honors the culture of the indigenous people of this region. Seeing this statue of an indigenous woman in Plain-style clothing served to show visitors the amalgamation of cultures and histories that exist in our community. Once in Rapid City, they visited Mount Rushmore National Memorial, did a little shopping, and even did some line dancing before heading to their next stop.
This program exemplifies why we all work on IVLP programs: The sharing of culture, experiences, and information for our delegates and our people brings us closer together and allows us to forge connections across common interests and goals. We look forward to the next experience where we can continue sharing a piece of our culture here in South Dakota with visitors from other parts of the world.
International Institute of Buffalo
By Christopher Kull, International Exchanges & Education Coordinator
IVLP: Young Influencers
NPA: Meridian International Center
In September 2022, the International Institute of Buffalo welcomed delegates from Pakistan who came to the United States as members of the “Young Influencers” International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) project coordinated with Meridian International Center. The delegation met with several nonprofit organizations and university faculty members during their time in Buffalo. These meetings focused on best practices for utilizing social media as a tool to support minoritized communities, interfaith efforts to create mutual understanding, and community-based conflict resolution strategies.
Upon meeting with our organization’s Executive Director, Jenny Rizzo-Choi, and our Director of Communications, Gabe DiMaio, the group learned how the International Institute of Buffalo (IIB) is using social media to keep the community in the loop about upcoming events, share clients’ success stories about our work, increase awareness around important issues affecting refugees and immigrants, and build community engagement and understanding of us diverse community members. Our social media presence has helped IIB better connect with our supporters, while also promoting our work in the community. The IVLP delegates were very interested in this approach and thought it was a great way to stay current with trends, as many people rely on social media to learn about local organizations and events.
The IVLP participants also met with representatives from Open Buffalo, a local nonprofit organization working to advance racial, economic, and ecological justice through skill-building, networking, and leadership opportunities. The meeting focused on examining the power communities have to address systemic challenges through collaboration and discussed antiracism in this context. This meeting had special significance for the delegates and the presenters, as Open Buffalo has been particularly instrumental in supporting the Buffalo community in response to the racist terrorist attack at Tops Supermarket in May of 2022. The representatives from Open Buffalo discussed their many efforts to help the community in the aftermath of this tragedy, along with how it has acted as a catalyst for starting a larger conversation on food scarcity in our city’s East side.
The IVLP delegation also had the opportunity to meet with representatives from SUNY Buffalo State’s Restorative Justice Center, and learn how the Center uses restorative justice to address and repair the harm done to communities. This model is used nationwide at colleges and universities to manage student conflict and incidents. The goal of this Center is to work with all individuals involved in a conflict to come to a resolution. Staff and students from Buffalo State spoke with the group on conflict resolution tactics such as justice circles, mediation, conferences, and conflict management; and the delegation took part in a restorative justice circle activity. The delegation thoroughly enjoyed their time at Buffalo State and thought that the workshop was a very insightful way to negotiate conflict management.
We were honored to have such a dynamic group of delegates come to Buffalo and connect with some of the many amazing people that help us live up to our title as “The City of Good Neighbors.”
By Gail Shrott, Executive Director
IVLP: Expanding U.S.-Indonesia Partnerships in Higher Education
NPA: American Councils for International Education
From the time that one of our GlobalPittsburgh’s volunteers started finding resources for our proposal for Expanding U.S.-Indonesia Partnerships in Higher Education, we became excited about the possibilities for strengthening existing connections to Indonesia. The project took place between October 1 and 6, and we partnered with the Director of Global Partnerships and Partner Engagement for the University of Pittsburgh’s University Center for International Studies. With help from this group, we arranged meetings on campus for this distinguished delegation.
Our collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh enabled the group to meet with James Cook, Ph.D., Associate Director of the Asian Studies Center, as well. Andrew Weintraub, Ph.D., a noted Indonesian music scholar invited the group to attend his classes titled, “Music and Islam in Indonesia” and “University Gamelan.” Three senior members from the Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor of Research also met with the group to discuss various topics, including how U.S. federal and local authorities engage with public and private research universities to facilitate international research and scholarship.
In addition to the University of Pittsburgh meetings, the group met with LeeAnne Haworth, Senior International Trade Specialist, U.S. Commercial Service – Pittsburgh. LeeAnne shared her experience working in Jakarta, and connected the group to her contact at the U.S. Commercial Service Jakarta office as a way to help promote future connections to U.S. universities. It was a memorable meeting, and further demonstrated that the four visitors, accompanied by interpreters Charles Ariwijaya and Shawn Callanan, were engaged in the topic and eager to increase opportunities for Indonesian students. The project was a big accomplishment for our community in that it achieved the goal of strengthening ties between Pittsburgh and Indonesia.
Pacific & Asian Affairs Council
By Erin Hoshibata, Grant Proposal Writer & International Visitor Leadership Program Director
IVLP: Sharing U.S. Best Practices
NPA: Cultural Vistas
When International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) participants learn that they will be traveling to Hawaii as part of their IVLP program, they are often ecstatic, envisioning picture-perfect sunsets, mai tai cocktails on the beach, and a harmonious, unspoiled paradise. They quickly come to understand through their professional meetings that Hawaii’s communities face their own unique and deeply complex challenges spanning all sectors of society, government, the environment, and the economy. Hawaii’s geographically isolated location means limited resources and one of the highest costs of living in the world. These challenges were exacerbated with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted the state’s tourism-dependent economy, education, and healthcare systems.
In September 2022, the Pacific & Asian Affairs Council (PAAC) hosted a group of four journalists from Thailand whose IVLP project, “Sharing U.S. Best Practices,” tasked them with observing and learning about case studies across a myriad of sectors in each of the major U.S. cities they visited. In Hawaii, their entire program took place on Oʻahu, where they visited ʻIolani Palace, the official royal residence of the Kingdom of Hawaii’s ruling monarchy. Here, they learned about Hawaii’s kānaka maoli (Native Hawaiian population), and the indigenous heritage that continues to shape Hawaii’s culture and society to this day. The visit, as well as subsequent meetings with representatives of Sierra Club Hawaii and the Honolulu Civil Beat, helped the journalists understand the magnitude of the ongoing “Red Hill Water Crisis,” a public health and environmental crisis currently impacting thousands of residents on Oʻahu. The group also met with East-West Center fellows conducting critical research on vulnerable delta regions throughout Southeast Asia. Drawing parallels between and identifying common challenges experienced by, Hawaii and Thailand’s fragile ecosystems, legal systems, and journalism sectors, the group departed with a far better understanding of the reality faced by local communities.
While the return to in-person programming has presented the IVLP network with unique challenges, there is no doubting the joy we feel hosting groups in our communities again. Mahalo to Cultural Vistas, the East-West Center, Sierra Club Hawaii, the Honolulu Civil Beat, and the docents at ʻIolani Palace, for making our journalists’ visit a success.