Exchange Matters / February 28, 2017

Harnessing the Power of Youth

By Alexander Kegel, 2017 Emerging Leader

Uniting people across the world through community: this was the essence of the 2017 Global Ties U.S. National Meeting. There was no clearer message from speaker to speaker, whether a member of a Community-Based Member, or a U.S. Department of State official or International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) alumnus/a, than to remember the strength, adaptability, and importance of exchange programs, particularly the IVLP. In the words of Citizen Diplomat of the Year Awardee Clifton L. Taulbert, “Life can never be too fast to stop by your neighbors.”

Reflection on the National Meeting would not be complete without the Emerging Leaders Program. It is amazing how quickly a group of people can enter one’s life and become dear friends. In the few weeks since the National Meeting, this group of previously unknown, wonderful, talented, and incredibly smart individuals has become very meaningful to me as friends, colleagues and members of the IVLP family. No group better demonstrates the power of #UnityinCommunity than these young professionals, as we discover the wide world of citizen diplomacy.

Who knew that the call for action would draw such a diverse and amazing group from across the country: from Portland to Miami, Louisville to Iowa City, and Washington, DC to Seattle, Washington to band together in developing cross-cultural programs for the future of our country and many others around the globe? There is no experience more unique and powerful than what Global Ties U.S., the U.S. Department of State, and members and partners of our Network do for the people of this small blue and green ball hurtling through space as we search for unity through community efforts.

Alexander Kegel is an IVP Intern with the World Affairs Council in Seattle. He graduated from the University of Washington in June with a Bachelor’s in French and International Studies with a specialization in Foreign Policy, Security, Diplomacy, and Peace.