Exchange Matters / December 14, 2021

Letter From Global Ties U.S. President & CEO

​​Thank you for taking a few minutes to read through our 2021 Annual Report.

This year is our 60th anniversary, and we have a lot to reflect on. A decade ago, to honor the 50th anniversary of Global Ties U.S. (then the National Council for International Visitors), Congress established an act to honor the work of this Network. The legislation read that our member organizations serve as “international gateways, sharing their communities with the world and the world with their communities, welcoming strangers and sending home friends.” The Global Ties Network has changed dramatically in the last 10 years, but building community, globally and locally, remains at the heart of our work.

Building community matters a lot right now. It matters globally because our alliances and partnerships are critical to solving the transnational challenges that are having a real impact on our daily lives, like global pandemics and our climate. It matters locally because, as we all know, we’re facing much divisiveness in our country. According to Pew Research, about seven-in-ten U.S. citizens think people are less confident in each other in 2021 than they were 20 years ago. But when you ask people who they trust, it is the people they engage within their communities. Promoting a sense of belonging inspires collaboration and cooperation for real problem-solving. And at the core of every relationship, whether it be between individuals, communities or nations is trust.

To honor our 60th anniversary and these times, we adjusted our mission statement to powering individuals, communities, and nations to build trust and advance peace and prosperity through international exchange. We added “building trust“ because trust is the foundation of every relationship, the ones you build at home and abroad. It’s not always visible or quantifiable, but you know when you lose trust. You also know how you build trust: by listening. By meeting and engaging with others, especially when it’s hard.

While the words of our mission may have changed, the core of our work remains the same: serving our members. Through reimagining our events and platforms and iterating to make them more interactive and meaningful, and training the Network on how to implement virtual and hybrid programming, we’re learning the best lessons from the pandemic and modernizing our methods. Through programs like the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), USA Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, Law Enforcement and Security Exchange Program (LESEP), MENA-USA Empowering Resilient Girls Exchange (MERGE), and Water Smart Engagement (WiSE) program, we’re passing through new business opportunities to help our members build their capacity for exchanges, gain more revenue, and find more chances to include their communities.

We also have focused more intently on our diversity, equity, and inclusion work for Global Ties U.S. and the Network, to meet our mission and do our part to advance social justice and racial equity. This includes creating a DEI Working Group within the Global Ties Network, changing how we work within Global Ties U.S., and lifting up the next generation of international affairs and exchange professionals, who will be representing a changing United States, through our Emerging Leaders Program.

Sixty years ago, during the Cold War and a Civil Rights Movement building momentum at home, President Kennedy called the Global Ties Network into service with the faith that international exchanges could build a more durable and just peace. And our Network responded, as more than 80 Community-Based Members raised their hands to help share our communities with the world and the world with our communities, to welcome strangers, and to send home friends. Our mission at Global Ties U.S. is to power our members and partners in this work, because Diplomacy Begins Here.

Read Our Report