Compiled by Carla Picasso, Communications Intern Global Ties U.S.
This month, the Global Ties Network is reflecting on how exchange programs like the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) help build global competencies that contribute to youth workforce development. In an increasingly digital world, young professionals are shifting their efforts to respond to a new global market. International exchange partners Global Minnesota, San Antonio Council for International Visitors, and Citizen Diplomacy International of Philadelphia share how IVLP exchanges build skills for new hires. Read more about our members’ experiences below and how exchanges matter to their communities.
21st Century ChangeMakers: American Language and Multicultural Diversity
CBM: Global Minnesota
NPA: Institute for International Education
In October 2021, Global Minnesota was fortunate to host a meeting with 13 International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) visitors from Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and representatives from two schools in the Twin Cities that focus on language and cultural immersion. The visitors were teachers, professors, deans, and education specialists involved in teaching English through various capacities in their countries. Guest speakers included Principal Corey Maslowski and Curriculum and Professional Development Coordinator Kara Scheid, from Park Spanish Immersion Elementary School in Saint Louis Park, MN, as well as Principal Laura Sullivan, Family Liaison Cecelia Benimon, and Kindergarten Teacher Anna Dahl, from Anishinabe Academy in Minneapolis, MN.
Guest speakers and visitors emphasized that language learning can be a powerful entry point into understanding vast histories and diverse cultures. By teaching students to speak Spanish, educators at Park Spanish Immersion ensure that language instruction is coupled with social and extracurricular practice in the real world. The goal is to introduce young people to the diversity of voices and cultures across Latin America through language, and produce true global citizens with increased cross-cultural awareness, tolerance, and empathy for others.
At Anishinabe Academy, hard-working educators teach Ojibwe and Dakota language and culture. They use their interactive and inventive curriculum to shed light on, and heal from, generational trauma that has been inflicted on indigenous people for hundreds of years, including the atrocities that took place in the U.S. Indian Boarding School system. International visitors were particularly moved by this part of the meeting because several had never learned about the role of boarding schools in the extensive institutional discrimination and racism against indigenous people throughout U.S. history.
Representatives from both schools mentioned the need to build and maintain open communication and trust between educators, administrations, and families. Both Park Spanish Immersion and Anishinabe Academy welcome the involvement of families in their work, which is a cultural component in the U.S. that is not present in every country. Families in some nations take a more hands-off approach to the education of their children due to their educational systems and cultural norms.
It was wonderful to be able to provide a platform for educators to discuss best practices and reflect on the profound role of language education in shaping the worldview of young people.
– Sasha Shahidi, (former) International Exchange and Engagement Manager
Empowering Youth through Workforce Development
NPA: FHI 360
San Antonio Council for International Visitors
In February 2021, the San Antonio Council for International Visitors (SACIV) was honored to virtually host 10 visitors from Africa for an International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP) project on “Empowering Youth Through Workforce Development” with FHI 360. Through the San Antonio portion of their program, the delegation explored ways teachers and businesses get youth interested in future looking careers and how various institutions have evolved to fill workforce niches and meet economic needs.
Visitors had the opportunity to speak with students at Business Careers High School, in which they learned about the magnet school’s curriculum and programs intended to expose students to business professions with classes in business etiquette, finance, and technology. Visitors and students had a lively conversation exchanging their experiences engaging in entrepreneurial activities. The visitors were eager to learn about how the school provides high school students with leadership and business skills, and the students were equally enthusiastic to share examples of their work.
The group also had the opportunity to discuss local efforts to align education, workforce, and economic development with the talent needs of San Antonio’s current and future employers through a meeting with local organization, San Antonio Works. As it became apparent that both the visitors and local speakers faced common challenges and experienced similar trends, best practices and ideas were shared over the course of the conversation.
The visitors were grateful for the opportunity to meet with their professional counterparts who are aiming to propel job creation for youth at the local level and increase job-training programs. The exchange of information that took place during this program, between both the visitors and local professionals and students, was of significant value for all involved.
– Cecilia Cross, Executive Director
Citizen Diplomacy International of Philadelphia
NPA: Institute for International Education
Storytelling is a powerful tool that allows connection and exchange to happen over shared experiences that make us human. Leaders responsible for truly strong coalitions and inclusive work environments understand the value of personal identity in the workplace. An International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) meeting in March 2021 led by Uva Coles, Founder and CEO of Inclusiva, explored this topic with a group of Middle Eastern and North African community leaders seeking to Empower Youth.
Uva works to help organizations get into inclusive “good trouble” by building bridges of connection across differences. “People are more likely to follow a person just like them. Showing your humanity can help to build this connection,” shares Uva Coles.
The Citizen Diplomacy International community is greatly impacted by such stories and is especially moved by inclusive leaders like Uva who address subjects like unconscious bias and bias interruption. The IVLP meeting participants discussed creating work environments that do not expect people to surrender their identity, and instead embrace individuality. By the end of the session, you could see the tight bonds between the participants as they shared stories of their motivations, hopes, and life lessons.
– Anna Schneider, Senior Program Officer