Exchange Matters / November 17, 2021

International Education Week 2021

Compiled by Carla Picasso, Communications Intern Global Ties U.S. 

Global Ties U.S. is celebrating International Education Week (November 15-19) with exchange impact stories from our 2021 cohort of  Emerging Leaders. Learn how global engagement has shaped their career trajectories and inspired them to be global leaders in their communities. Highlights are below: 

Keira Chandler 

CBM: WorldDenver
Project: Global engagement informational session for high school students

Citizen diplomacy is about making lasting connections. My service project goal was to share how these connections can be made through volunteerism and travel and how that intersects with public diplomacy. I worked with the Global Politics in the 21st Century class at Kent Denver high school, as engaging youth in the global sphere is crucial to the development of public diplomacy and cultural understanding. In high school I found those influences through a club called buildOn, whose mission is to “Build A Better Future For America’s Youth and Others Across The Globe.” Through this program I participated in local volunteer projects, tutored students, and even traveled to Jokaiya, Nepal to build a secondary school with the local community. These experiences both changed my life and guided me to explore my interests in international relations. All students should have access to those experiences. I framed my project around the volunteer and travel opportunities I was given in high school and how that fostered my interests in cultural diplomacy. Along with sharing my experiences, I also provided local and international volunteer resources related to community building. There is much to be learned from the younger generations and after only one class period, I am confident that I met with future emerging leaders. Read more

Andrew Gasparini 

CBM: Georgia Council for International Visitors
Project Name: Kennesaw Sister Cities Commission 

I would never have anticipated I would be working in local government after graduating, but when the opportunity arose to give back to the community that nurtured me, I took it. In anticipation of my new job, I began consuming a lot of media about the field of public administration – and that included re-watching my high school favorite show, “Parks and Recreation.” When I reached Season 2, Episode 5, I knew immediately the story of “Sister City” was one I wanted to replicate for Kennesaw. Establishing a Sister Cities Program combines my background of international affairs with my passion to serve my community. The project was also an opportunity for me to help connect my neighbors with various peoples, perspectives, and cultures abroad. Over the past several months, I have interviewed and nominated people to serve on the inaugural Kennesaw Sister Cities Commission, ratified in September, in the hopes of bringing to the table professionals from our university and school system as well as our chamber of commerce and development authority. I am excited to share that their appointments were approved this past Monday, which is a fitting way to start International Education Week and conclude my experience as a 2021 Global Ties U.S. Emerging Leader. Read more

Olivia Rovin 

CBM: World Partnerships Inc
Project: Research paper and a policy memo on U.S. cultural diplomacy opportunities 

For my Emerging Leaders’ Project, I wrote a research paper and a policy memo detailing why and how President Biden should use cultural diplomacy to mend transatlantic ties with our allies as part of an independent study. This topic is extremely important for the United States and its relationships with its allies, and is especially relevant when I began in the Spring of 2021 and President Biden had just been inaugurated. Diplomatic relations with other countries are often highlighted when these countries are considered adversaries; however, looking at mending ties with allies is not often studied. I found that cultural diplomacy is an essential element to mending ties with our allies and laid out some suggestions for how President Biden could highlight this tool in his approach. I held a discussion at the end of the semester where I shared my work and had an open discourse with other students. I think it is important to find internships and/or programs to get connected with people in the international relations space. The youth of this country are such a valuable asset. By cultivating a group of diverse, talented, and globally focused young professionals, the United States is investing in its future leaders, scholars, and professionals who will ultimately be in charge of the country’s future. Read more 

Kamryn Ryan

CBM: Iowa International Center
Project: Cultural Diplomacy Presentation to Youth 

My Emerging Leaders project was a cultural diplomacy presentation on South Korea to a third-grade classroom in rural Iowa. Having taught in South Korea for a duration of my project, I wanted to connect my students from Seoul to these students in Iowa and help break down cultural barriers. The presentation focused on Korean culture, history, language, education, and food. I shared snacks, Korean money, and letters from my students back in Seoul that they wrote about themselves to share with the third graders. Once the hour was up, the students were left excited to have learned of a new country and even more excited to write a letter back to their new friends some 6,000 miles away. Engaging youth and exposing them to culture’s they’re not familiar with can open their eyes to all the world has to offer, and hopefully encourage them to get out there and see it. I believe facilitating this cross-cultural exchange amongst students is one way we can use soft power to advance U.S. foreign policy, and one day these students may do the same. 

Brooke Scott 

CBM: San Diego Diplomacy Council 
Project Name: Fireside chat: Diplomacy – A Tool for Countering Violent Extremism 

At the 2021 virtual Global Ties U.S. National Meeting, I was drawn to the fireside chats, where I had the immense privilege to hear from changemakers in the field. I chose to borrow from these fireside chats when developing and executing my project: Diplomacy – A Tool for Countering Violent Extremism, with three key stakeholders: Philip Seib, Professor of International Relations, Journalism and Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California; Elizabeth Moore, Educator on racist extremism and the dangers of hate groups; and Mohamed Amin Ahmed, Founder of Average Mohamed, a nonprofit that uses popular culture to counter extremism. We had a rich discussion on how diplomacy serves as a piece to the larger puzzle of countering and preventing violent extremism, the role of citizens and governments in addressing hate, and lessons learned from the past along with the best means by which to move forward as a nation. The Global Ties Network is vast and it has been wonderful to meet many fellow peers who served as past years Emerging Leaders or who came across this Network through other channels. Yes, our global society is facing an array of urgent global challenges – but the network of interns, citizen diplomats, ambassadors, foreign service officers and so on should give you immense hope that there exists a brighter future ahead. Read more

Stephanie Stan 

CBM: Global Ties Detroit
Project: Program Facilitator for the MENA-USA Empowering Resilient Girls Exchange (MERGE)  

For my project, I served as a Program Facilitator for the MENA-USA Empowering Resilient Girls Exchange (MERGE)—a virtual exchange of 15–19-year-old women from the United States and Middle East / North Africa (MENA) region. Working with young women in different countries and cultures to improve mental health outcomes for themselves and their community members was a unique opportunity to contribute to global mental health work, citizen diplomacy, and foreign exchange. It was interesting to see similarities and differences in how young women express and cope with mental health challenges, and learn how MERGE positively impacted participants as they shared their experiences with peers around the world. As someone passionate about global mental health outcomes and advocacy in vulnerable populations, MERGE strongly aligned with my interests and goals. Participating as a facilitator allowed me to contribute to these interests and gain skills applicable to my future global health policy career. I value the opportunity MERGE created to participate in citizen diplomacy to promote female empowerment, community mental health advocacy, and emotional resilience. Read more