Exchange Matters / December 22, 2022

Promoting International Exchange Through Community Engagement

This December, we explore how cultural and citizen diplomacy can connect communities across the globe to share ideas, build networks, and foster collaboration. Below, Global Ties Network members in Arizona, California, and Oklahoma highlight International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) projects on the topic.

Global Ties Arizona

By Kristin Allen, Executive Director
IVLP: Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists – New and Traditional Broadcast Media 
NPA: World Learning

In September, Global Ties Arizona collaborated with World Learning on a multiregional project to bring 16 journalists and media leaders from around the world to the Phoenix area through the Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalist. Programming focused on topics such as mentorship of young journalists, youth engagement through digital media, advancement of social causes through media, and collaborative media partnerships, and included meetings with local media and community organizations. 

“New & Traditional Broadcast Media” IVLP group at the studio of the Social Television Network with Founder Eric Sperling. Photos provided by Global Ties Arizona.

The group toured the studio of Social Television Network and learned how it centers content around important social issues such as DEIA, homelessness, and mental health, and steers away from the “if it bleeds, it leads” reporting mentality. STN discussed how it works with business partners, leaders, and nonprofits on social issues to help facilitate activism, change, and positive outcomes in the Phoenix community. 

Participants also visited SPOT 127, a digital media center providing young people in the Greater Phoenix area mentoring and instruction in key digital skills that are vital for success in today’s information economy. The group learned about after school and summer programs serving marginalized youth, program curriculum, and organizational funding streams, and met with a SPOT 127 alumna who has gone on to a successful career in media. In their conversation, they touched on topics such as freedom of speech and challenges in objective reporting when competing against social media echo chambers. 

The IVLP group also visited Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC), a nonprofit advocating for underserved individuals and communities. CPLC discussed their approach to building relationships with media outlets to effectively communicate their messages around social campaigns and services. The group engaged in robust conversations on topics like navigating varying political viewpoints and countering negative press through storytelling, and shared real perspectives from their communities. 

The IVLP media professionals pictured outside Chicanos Por La Causa’s main office in Phoenix with CPLC staff.

Said María Jesús Cervantes, Vice President of Public Relations and International Affairs, CPLC, of the visit: “[It is] an honor and a pleasure to connect and learn from such an engaging group of journalists. Local journalism is a cornerstone of our democracy, thus critical to inform and empower individuals and communities to become self [-sustaining]. At Chicanos Por La Causa, we welcome the opportunity to share and learn with our friends from around the world to empower lives.”  

The delegation also had the opportunity to visit Prensa Arizona, the largest independently owned Spanish newspaper in the state of Arizona, where they got to step on the set of Prensa Arizona’s day show and hear about how they leverage social media platforms to live stream and reach their audiences. 

Dennise Lovely Nimpson, Senior Reporter, Newscaster, and Producer, Joy FM – Excellent Communications Incorporated from Liberia, at the Center for Positive Media in Phoenix.

The participants’ final stop was to The Center for Positive Media, a collaborative space that houses media companies dedicated to inspirational storytelling, creativity, and positive impact. Here, they meet with business owners of Inspired Media 360, FrontDoors Media, Angles Communication, and Art of Our Soul.

“Arizona is a place for acquiring new skills for your professional development. My experience here has been personally rewarding for my journalism career going forward. I am a living witness of this transformation through the places visited and people I interacted with. Truly, there is a wealth of experience and education here. As a result of my visit, I can utilize new media skills which I would not have known,” said Dennise Lovely Nimpson, IVLP participant from Liberia, of her experience in Arizona. 

International Visitors Council of Los Angeles

By Eleanor Hofmeister Alberg, Communications & Events Coordinator
IVLP: Lessons Learned from Base-Hosting Communities in the U.S.
NPA:MCID Washington

In August 2022, the International Visitors Council of Los Angeles, in partnership with MCID Washington, has the pleasure of hosting specialists in the fields of journalism, military base affairs, and local military relations from Japan for the project “Lessons Learned from Base-Hosting Communities in the U.S.”  

Visitors from Japan meet with representatives at the Los Angeles Air Force Base. Photos provided by the International Visitors Council of Los Angeles.

While here, the visitors met with representatives at the Los Angeles Air Force Base (LAAFB) and learned about their community relationships and outreach programs. LAAFB’s Community Relations Division serves as the liaison between the LAAFB and the Los Angeles and South Bay communities. During the meeting, visitors and Air Force personnel shared stories about their work facilitating community engagement with local military bases and advocating for the needs of airmen and their families.  

The following day, the Japanese visitors had the opportunity to meet with Lieutenant Colonel Tom Lasser, President of the Board of Directors of the South Bay Aerospace Alliance (SBAA). The SBAA works with the LAAFB to serve the interests of the aerospace community and ensure the bases remain open and viable.  

IVLP visitors meet with LA-area military base representatives to share ideas around community engagement.

For the visitors, it was especially important to see U.S. military bases working to improve local sentiment toward the military and collaborating with local leaders and officials to support base personnel. The Japanese visitors and Los Angeles speakers found that they shared many commonalities in their work, including the challenges they face and how they manage outreach programming. These meetings offered visitors and local speakers a sense of camaraderie as they engaged in an open dialogue about their common experiences and exchanged ideas for bolstering community engagement and support of local bases and those who work there. 

Tulsa Global Alliance

By Bob Lieser, Vice President of Programs
IVLP: Building Relationships Between Native American Communities and French Museums
NPA: Meridian International Center

From November 24-30, 2022, Tulsa Global Alliance (TGA) and Meridian International Center hosted two U.S. Department of International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) participants from France: Camille Ginette France Faucourt, Heritage Curator for the Museum of Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean (MuCEM), and Cedric Maurice Georges Lesec. Director of External Relations and Outreach, Museum of Confluences.

The theme of their IVLP was, “Building Relationships Between Native American Communities and French Museums,” and in Oklahoma they met with representatives of the Seneca-Cayuga Nation, Osage Nation, and Cherokee Nation. TGA very much appreciates these Native American Nations for sharing their cultural heritage, and it was especially fitting that the IVLP museum officials visited during Native American Heritage Month.

Both museum officials participated in a virtual IVLP project in 2020, and TGA was happy to now host them in person, especially since Camille was born in Tulsa’s Sister City of Amiens, France.

“We’d like to thank Tulsa Global Alliance for helping facilitate this visit and for their efforts to better educate and connect us globally,” said Travis Owens, president of cultural tourism for Cherokee Nation Businesses. “The Cherokee people are finally telling their authentic story through their own perspective and any opportunity we have to share that story with the world is a good day.”

Left to Right – Camille Ginette France Faucourt, Heritage Curator, Museum of Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean (MuCEM); Melanie Bench, Sales Coordinator, Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism; Cedric Maurice Georges Lesec. Director of External Relations and Outreach, Museum of Confluences; Deborah Fritts, Cherokee Art Market Coordinator; Krystan Moser, Senior Manager of Collections and Exhibits, Cherokee Nation Businesses. Photo provided by Tulsa Global Alliance


“It was an honor to share the day with our guests from France and watch as they truly engaged in the immersive experience offered throughout our cultural sites,” said Deborah Fritts, interpretive project coordinator for Cherokee Nation Businesses. “Not only did they learn about the history of the Cherokee people, but they also witnessed a thriving culture that is beautifully woven into the community. Those firsthand experiences have a way of lasting a lifetime.”

TGA is very grateful to Jane Mudgett and Sam Peled, who hosted the group for Thanksgiving Dinner, and to Tina Peňa and William Loyd, who hosted them for home hospitality dinner the night after Thanksgiving and arranged for them to visit the First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City.

Jane Mudgett said, “We enjoyed sharing our Thanksgiving table with all of the visitors. We were particularly pleased to learn of their interest in Native Americans as so many tribes are represented in Oklahoma, and we support their desire as curators to positively and accurately reflect American-Indian pre/post-colonial history.”

Her husband Sam Peled noted, “What struck me most [about the visitors], is that their daily work as Indigenous peoples’ art experts revolves around repatriation of art effects that were looted from those peoples all over the world. Another interesting point was how much American-Indigenous peoples’ art they have in Europe.”

Tina commented, “I’m really happy that TGA put us in touch with Cedric and Camille. I’ve never had the opportunity to tour a museum with people who are professional museum curators, and it was a treat to walk through the First Americans Museum with them. We talked about how the narrative presented there is one that comes from all the 39 tribes here in Oklahoma and gives so many jumping off points into history and culture. I think I take for granted the wealth of art and culture we have all around us here in Oklahoma, and being able to see my home state fresh, through the eyes of our international visitors was a gift.”