By Rana Abouelhagag, Shanice Gitau, and Emma Stubblefield, Program Coordinators, MCID Washington
For more than 80 years, the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) has introduced the world to myriad communities in the United States, allowing individuals from the Appalachians to the Pacific to learn about new cultures and traditions through the lens of distinguished visitors. To continue in that spirit of engaging communities, MCID created the social media initiative, Country of the Month (COM), to highlight the uniqueness of the selected country and the accomplishments of its IVLP alumni. Over the course of several years, MCID has featured more than 20 IVLP alumni from around the globe.
Each COM post is designed to tell a story––one that emphasizes the unique impacts, cultural and professional, of IVLP. Every month, MCID staff selects IVLP alumni to interview and feature, emphasizing representatives from smaller, lesser-known countries. A typical COM spotlight includes information about the visitor’s home country, culture, work, professional, and personal impacts resulting from their IVLP experience. Through a written narrative, photos, and video component, viewers gain a more nuanced perspective of the nation, a snapshot of the visitor’s profession, and a glimpse of the participant’s culture.
In a March 2020 feature, Ranin Taher Saeed Al Kji Mimi shared how her IVLP experience motivated her to create change in her home country of Iraq: “I saw a monument in Montgomery, Alabama dedicated to American soldiers that inspired me to look into establishing a monument to honor individuals in my country.”
Another feature highlighted Candice Andrews, a participant from Trinidad and Tobago who shared, “[IVLP] was life-changing for me… I loved the wisdom and proven practices shared in the space.” Thanks to Candice’s enthusiasm about the feature and an abundance of online support from her friends and IVLP colleagues, this post garnered an overwhelming response of over 12,000 users, quickly becoming our most popular COM spotlight.
In this virtual world, our COM series has become a widespread celebration of IVLP and of our incredible alumni. Through the power of social media, our posts reach our partners across the US and an international network of alumni.