Exchange Matters / November 17, 2023

Cultivating Global Perspectives Through Educational Exchanges

Compiled by Layla Melendez, Communications Intern, Global Ties U.S.

This November, the Global Ties Network is exploring how international exchange programs like the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) advance international education. In the snapshots below, Citizen Diplomacy Alliance, WorldBoston, and the Cleveland Council on World Affairs reflect on how educational exchanges foster global perspectives.

Citizen Diplomacy Alliance 

IVLP: Border Security Management
NPA: Meridian International Center

By Pat Watson, Executive Director 

In September 2023, Tucson welcomed six visitors from Algeria to learn about border security management practices through a unique educational exchange with local experts. 

Following a trip to the Sonoran Desert Museum, the group met with members of the Alliance for lunch at Tiny’s, a local steakhouse built in the 1950s. After a quick bite, the group visited Border Patrol Supervisor Manny Ruiz from Nogales, Arizona, a border city that faces a huge inflow of immigrants from Mexico and South America on a daily basis. Since the border’s opening, the flow has been extensive, leaving the Border Patrol stretched to the limit. Supervisor Ruiz talked about the impact and what his district, including the city of Nogales, faces daily.

Group enjoying a meal at Tiny’s, a historic Arizona steakhouse. Image provided by Citizen Diplomacy Alliance. 

The group also visited the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s office for a meeting with Chief Deputy Castillio, to learn about how the county and its officers face border challenges. 

To get a broader view of the tactics used by those crossing into the United States, the group spent a day with the Shadow Wolves. This elite force of Tohono O’odham natives is a tactical patrol assigned to Homeland Security Investigations in Sells, Arizona. The experience with the Shadow Wolves showed the visitors how the team tracks border crossers, finds evidence of goods being brought into the country, and what Homeland Security does to protect United States citizens. The visitors raved about the day and all they learned from the Shadow Wolves. 

Home hosting is always a pleasure for the visitors, and this group was no exception. With good food, great conversation, and warm hospitality, each visitor was welcomed and proceeded to make friends with each host. 

The warmth and friendship of this group makes all of us in Tucson hope they can return. We would be honored to see our friends again. 


IVLP: Higher Education Partnerships
NPA: American Councils for International Education

By Elena Castellini, Program Associate of Citizen Diplomacy and Global Engagement Programs  

WorldBoston regularly hosts groups focused on higher education, given Boston’s density of higher education institutions. In February 2023, WorldBoston, in collaboration with the American Councils for International Education, welcomed eight international visitors from the Middle East and North Africa through the International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP) “Higher Education Partnerships.” The goal for our Boston program was to learn about research and advocacy to support global engagement and internationalization efforts, as well as promoting student development and career readiness through international experiences.  

While in Boston, the delegation had the opportunity to meet with many higher education institutions the city hosts. They learned about the renowned Cooperative Education program at Northeastern University, which offers local and global co-op opportunities for students to create professional connections. The visitors were even able to exchange with students currently in co-op at WorldBoston and hear about their experience in exploring or refining potential career paths, making valuable industry connections, and acquiring the skills and knowledge needed to succeed.  

The delegates with King Husky, the school mascot of Northeastern University. All images provided by WorldBoston.  

The visitors then met with six representatives from the Colleges of the Fenway, a collaborative effort of five neighboring Boston-based colleges in the Fenway area. This collaboration was created to add value to student academic and social life while seeking innovative methods of investing in new services and containing the costs of higher education. Collectively, the colleges represent more than 12,000 undergraduate students, comprising 16.2% of the total Boston population of undergraduates attending four-year colleges, more than 700 full-time faculty, and 2,300-course offerings.  

The delegates also met Lawrence Shall, the President of the New England Commission for Higher Education, who discussed the Commission’s roles of mentor and connector as it guides institutions through the rigors of the accreditation process. He shared the extraordinary work taking place at colleges and universities across New England. 

The international visitors with Lawrence Shall from the New England Commission for Higher Education.   

The Institute for Global Leadership at Tufts University also hosted a meeting to discuss its role as an incubator that educates learners at all levels to understand and engage with difficult global issues. The Institute develops new generations of effective and ethical leaders who are able and driven to comprehend complexity, reflect cultural and political nuance, and engage as responsible global citizens in anticipating and confronting the world’s most pressing problems.  

Staff from the Tufts Institute of Global Leadership with the IVLP group.  

Finally, the group enjoyed walking tours of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Overall, the participants were delighted with their meetings in Boston, and said they were returning home with plenty of ideas, inspiration and goals during their program closing, as well as opportunities for future networking and collaboration between American and MENA universities. 

Cleveland Council on World Affairs 

IVLP: Inclusive Education for Students with Disabilities 
NPA: Meridian International Center 

By Maria Garcia-Ollala, Program Officer, International Exchanges 

In September of 2023, the Cleveland Council on World Affairs hosted a group of six amazing individuals from Indonesia through an International Visitor Leadership Project (IVLP) titled “Inclusive Education for Students with Disabilities”, in collaboration with Meridian International Center. The Cleveland segment of the project explored inclusive education for students in public and private schools, work-study and community programs for individuals with disabilities, and affordable strategies for serving students with disabilities. 

IVLP participants from Indonesia posing in front of Cleveland skyline. All images provided by Cleveland Council on World Affairs.  

During their time in Cleveland, the group engaged with Cleveland’s educational institutions , non-governmental organizations, and other learning establishments that are committed to eliminating obstacles to education, altering institutional frameworks, and developing learning environments that are accessible to all. Aside from the fantastic effort being made to establish a more inclusive learning environment at all learning levels, the sessions stood out due to the shared struggles and understanding between the group and the resources.  

One major highlight included a school visit to North Ridgeville Elementary School. The group had the opportunity to visit the public elementary school, where they were introduced to students with disabilities and observed firsthand how the school integrates these students into regular classes. Students are provided a designated “pod” or additional space that allows these learners to receive additional, individualized support. The school administration was very happy to talk about their challenges and how they come up with cost-effective solutions to guarantee that every child in their care has the resources they need to thrive. The group had a great time during the North Ridgeville speakers’ visit and appreciated their candor and recommendations. 

Participants meeting faculty at North Ridgeville Academic Center.

The parallels between the issues and injustices that people with disabilities encounter both domestically in the United States and abroad were highlighted by this in-person exchange. It was a pleasure to have this wonderful group as our guests, and I hope the relationships they made in Cleveland will motivate them to keep pushing for reforms that will result in a more inclusive educational system and society. 

Guests are all smiles at the Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.