Exchange Matters / August 11, 2022

Youth Empowerment in IVLP Programming

Compiled by Rachel Mintz, Communications Intern, Global Ties U.S. 

Youth Empowerment is an important theme of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) and helps to inspire a new generation of leaders and citizen diplomats. Take a look at how Global Ties Network members WorldOrlando and World Trade Center Institute are finding ways to better connect, support, and increase youth engagement in their local and global communities through IVLP programming.  

Youth and Civic Engagement 

CBM: World Trade Center Institute 
NPA: Meridian International Center  

Group of IVLP participants smiling in a group photo on brick steps

In late July 2022, IVLP participants met with the World Trade Center Institute for a project focused on equipping young leaders with tools to solve global problems. Both photos provided by World Trade Center Institute.

Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders, so it’s important to provide them with the tools they need to tackle the increasingly daunting challenges of the future. In July, the World Trade Center Institute hosted a regional group of leaders from countries in Africa. The visitors participated in a program focused on youth and civic engagement, organized in partnership with Meridian International Center.  

The group met with the leaders of the Living Classrooms Foundation, a Baltimore-based nonprofit with more than three decades of experience building safer, stronger, and healthier communities. The organization runs many programs focusing on education and workforce development and discussed everything from equity and funding sources to perceptions surrounding formerly incarcerated individuals with the IVLP visitors. While disrupting generational poverty is a project that will continue well beyond our lifetimes, I was heartened by the insightful questions from the group.  

IVLP participants met with the leaders of the Living Classrooms Foundation and the International Youth Foundation to discuss topics such as workforce development and education.

After enjoying lunch in Baltimore’s scenic Inner Harbor, the group met with the International Youth Foundation (IYF), a Maryland-based nonprofit working to improve the lives of young people globally. IYF’s mission is centered around the belief that young people are assets, not problems to be solved. A core component of this is promoting youth-led organizations and equipping these young changemakers to reach their full potential. Many business cards were exchanged as the visitors brainstormed ideas with IYF Director of Assets, Strategy, and Knowledge Pia Campbell. Funding and technology were two hot topics, as everyone discussed ways to utilize online resources like WhatsApp and YouTube.  

I left the day with a sense of hope that we’re moving in the right direction to support our young people no matter where they live, and a wish that we only had more time to connect!

– Julie Graham, VP of Operations, World Trade Center Institute 

Higher Education in the United States: Innovation and Opportunities for Partnership 

CBM: WorldOrlando
NPA: World Learning 

An IVLP group of higher education leaders from Latin America met with U.S. counterparts to explore ideas to support students and faculty in their communities. Both photos provided by WorldOrlando.

In April of 2022, WorldOrlando hosted nine (9) accomplished university administrators, academic faculty, international student offices representatives, and government education officials from Latin America for the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) project, “Higher Education in the United States: Innovation and Opportunities for Partnership.” Coordinated in partnership with World Learning, the Orlando portion of the visitor’s itinerary focused on engaging Hispanic-Serving Institutions, increasing international mobility and global competency, leveraging technology to support faculty and students, and adjusting curriculums to industry needs.   

This project was one of my first in-person programming experiences since our Network switched to virtual programming in 2020. I’ll never forget how excited and happy I felt to meet the visitors and help them form the people-to-people connections that are so meaningful to our work. It was inspiring to learn that the visitors formed an initiative called “Interpractica” to connect each of their institutions and continue to share best practices they had picked up through their IVLP. I heard over and over how the visitors and their collaborative spirit impressed community resources at the University of Central Florida, Valencia Community College, and Seminole State College.

Participants are all smiles after meeting with community resources from the University of Central Florida and discussing best practices in higher education.

One meeting that stood out to the visitors was with Valencia Community College’s Accelerated Skills Training programs. The visitors met with Jason Becker, the manager of the welding program at Valencia’s warehouse facility, and learned how the facility provides hands-on training to welders, linemen, and plumbers. The international visitors were engrossed in Jason’s presentation on prioritizing hands-on skills training and his emphasis on the need to shift cultural predispositions against essential blue-collar workers. This group of global professionals was all in agreement with Jason on the need to provide alternative career paths that provide a good living and sustain our communities.    

I’ll always remember this project as one of my first in-person exchanges after our shift to virtual. But more importantly, I’ll never forget how a love of education in all its forms can cross cultures and form connections.

– Shilpa Deshpande Finnerty, Project Manager, WorldOrlando