Exchange Matters / February 28, 2017

Stepping Into Your World

By Chelsea Beaulieu, 2017 Emerging Leader

“If you open the door a little, I will show you the world,” said Sharon Durtka, as she and her husband Al welcomed 18 Emerging Leaders from Community-Based Members across the Global Ties Network at an orientation during the 2017 National Meeting. Al and Sharon are the generous supporters who have made the Emerging Leaders Program possible for people like me. After the gathering, that door has indeed been pushed wide open, and I am so excited about the world I see before me.

As a team member from the Vermont Council on World Affairs (VCWA), my understanding of the IVLP was focused on the importance of connections: both those the visitors made while in my community, as well as those that expanded the global consciousness of Vermonters. Prior to the National Meeting, my grasp of the broader mechanism of the IVLP was limited. I can describe it how I imagine someone who looks at the travel photos I take comprehends the places I’ve been: what is in the foreground is crystal clear, and the beauty of the immediate scenery can be appreciated. However, the background is blurred; it can be grasped through context, but the first-hand perspective– that 360 degree view– can only be understood by actually going there and standing where I stood.

The National Meeting blew me away with opportunities to connect with members from every level of the public diplomacy and international exchange field, and I quickly grew to appreciate what an invaluable role each and every person in this process plays. I am heartened, motivated, and inspired by this incredible community of people who work to build a better world every day.

Becoming involved in the VCWA and subsequently participating in the Emerging Leaders Program was how I cracked open the door to this area of expertise. The Global Ties community—particularly Al and Sharon Durtka, Judy Donner of Global Ties U.S., the VCWA team, and my fellow Emerging Leaders—have shown me this world by inviting me to stand by their sides and view a glimpse of what you see every day. My perspective has been broadened, my goals to work in this field have been reaffirmed, and I cannot wait to continue to explore the world of public diplomacy and international exchange even deeper as I continue my journey of professional development.

Chelsea Beaulieu is a program assistant intern at the Vermont Council on World Affairs in the final year of the Master’s in International Relations program at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island.