This has been a landmark year for the VCWA. Since the beginning of 2017, we have welcomed nearly 130 delegates from more than 60 countries, and there are still more to come! These 19 delegations have focused on topics as diverse as sustainable agriculture, entrepreneurship, rural development, education, and refugee resettlement and have left Vermont with a better understanding of America and the people who live here. While we facilitate a number of professional exchange programs, the two that we engage with the most are the International Visitor Leadership Program and the Open World Program.
The International Visitor Leadership Program is sponsored by the US Department of State and provides leaders and emerging leaders from all over the world with the opportunity to spend up to three weeks in the United States, traveling to multiple cities throughout the country and meeting with colleagues in their field. Delegations can range in size from an individual delegate to dozens of delegates from multiple countries. Some delegations speak English fluently, while others require the use of an interpreter. In addition to professional meetings, delegates take part in cultural activities and hospitality dinners hosted by community members in their homes. These home hospitalities provide a unique opportunity for members of the community to connect with people from all over the world in an informal setting to learn more about each other’s culture.
The Open World Program is an agency of the US Congress and focuses its programs on Eurasian countries of the former Soviet Union. These delegations spend two days in Washington, D.C. before arriving in various communities throughout the United States. Delegations generally consist of seven people: five delegates, one facilitator from their home country, and one interpreter. Delegates spend a week living with host families, participating in professional meetings and workshops, and experiencing the culture of their host communities while sharing their own.
The VCWA also hosted professional fellows from the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI), which aims to empower Latin America and Caribbean business and social entrepreneurs to transform their societies and contribute more fully to economic development and prosperity, security, human rights, and good governance in the hemisphere. During their six-week exchange in October, our fellows interned with Vermont businesses and organizations. See a video of their Vermont experience here.
As this year draws to an end, we look forward to gathering together to celebrate international diplomacy and the relationships we have built throughout this busy year. We invite you to join us in this celebration at our Giving Tuesday event, November 28th as we share our 802Diplomat stories. We will hear from a handful of people coming to share their experiences, from hosting delegates in their home, to their international work abroad. Our community has made a more connected world thanks to their efforts, and we cannot wait to see how our organization will continue to grow.
So, to all of our fellow 802Diplomats, we thank you for welcoming these delegates into your home, offices, and businesses; sharing your experiences; and imparting the spirit of Vermont.
The future of Vermont depends upon the world beyond our borders. The Vermont Council on World Affairs, in cooperation with the public and private sectors seeks to promote awareness, educate, and engage the community with the world and its people, places, and cultures. We achieve our mission through creating public forums, hosting international visitors and working with our business community and educational institutions to develop programs for students, faculty, staff and community.