Summer/Fall 2016 Newsletter
Thank You International Festival Volunteers! 
International Focus would like to thank all of you who came and celebrated our regions diversity at our 31st Annual International Festival. Thousands enjoyed the weekend and experiencing the various cultures embodied in their arts, food, dance, and music. We'd like to extend special thanks to the International Focus Board and all of our wonderful volunteers who who went above and beyond in organizing the festival.

IF staff would also like to recognize our talented interns: Ben Lawson, Christian Jones, Joey Ingrassia, Mialy Rabe-Ranjanivo, Natalie Hoy and Evelyn Johnson. Thank you for your generous spirit of volunteerism and helping with the International Festival of Raleigh at the information booth. You were an immense help in assisting guests and at spreading the word about the amazing work we do locally and in the world!
Recap- Citizen Diplomacy Series: 
Building Bridges Across the World 
and Within Our Hearts

Susan Shultz  

Susan Schultz honored North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and Louise Spieler, Senior Associate Dean for Strategy and Administration at the UNC School of Media and Journalism (pictured) with Certificates of Appreciation for their constant support of International Focus's exchange programs
Susan Shultz, the acting director of the Office of International Visitors of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, lead a discussion on strengthening international relations through North Carolina's participation in the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). The IVLP accepts international leaders and invites them to the United States on programs ranging from 3 days to 3 weeks, to cultivate lasting relationships between current and emerging professionals around the world and their American counterparts . It provides opportunities for foreign opinion makers to gain firsthand knowledge about U.S. society, culture, and politics.

The discussion, which was held on Tuesday, August 30th, focused on the IVLP's impact in many different areas. She first explored the IVLP's social impact. Examples of programs whose goals and participants were focused on improving lives included one that involved a Bangladeshi scientist studying climate change and another where German policy makers studied refugee re
settlement protocols. The IVLP's financial benefit for the state of North Carolina was also discussed, with Ms. Shultz citing that
Secretary of State Elaine Marshall addressed guests_ thanking them and expressing the importance of international exchanges locally and internationally
 the program on average generates four  times the  amount of revenue that it costs to r un . The evening concluded by addressing the ways that citizens of North Carolina can play an active and important part of this program. We were honored by Ms. Schultz's observation that the primary way they can do this is by actively being a part of organizations  like our own International Focus.   She expressed how impressed she was in the caliber of our professional resources, the high level of engagement of our members
 and our community, and the exemplary work of our support team. 

Dr. Assad  Meymandi

On Tuesday, September 27th, International Focus was honored to receive Dr. Assad Meymandi as our guest speaker for its monthly Citizen Diplomacy Series. Dr. Meymandi, a long-time resident of Raleigh and renowned psychiatrist, humanist, and philanthropist, spoke on the topic of "Reflections on Ontology". The talk, which spanned from the abstract question of ontology - of existence - to the deeply personal, dwelt on the insights Dr. Meymandi had extracted fro
Dr. Assad Meymandi musing on various threads of thought as he spoke to the assembled.
m the areas of science, theology, and philosophy and addressed not only what is to be human but to be better, more altruistic humans. Citing such classical scholarship as Galen, Augustine of Hippo, Maimonides, and Ibn Khaldoun as well as Freudian and developmental psychology, he walked the audience through the psychological development and expression of altruistic behavior and thought and gave advice on how to exercise this in our daily lives to promote goodness and
universal love, agape
in our personal lives.

At the end of his talk, Dr. Meymandi was given a pin from the IVLP by Leila Bekri in honor of his amazing achievements and friendship with International Focus. That talk concluded with the doctor taking questions from the audience on both the particulars of his talk and advice on modern life and health. The answers the doctor gave were insightful, candid, and simple solutions and if practiced seem promising to improve not only the lives of those who follow them but for society as a whole.

 
Highlights of  the IVLP:  
The Triangle's Technology 
Shines on the World Stage  
Multi-Regional Group: Aviation

In July, International Focus had the pleasure to host nineteen visitors from eighteen countries - Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Cameroon, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ghana, the European Union, India, Japan, Nepal, Norway, Panama, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Taiwan, and Uruguay - on an International Visitor Leadership Program initiative to explore global leadership in aviation. The program focused on aviation safety perspectives across a broad array of topics: encouraging information sharing and collaboration between the US and global aviation leaders; promoting US aviation standards, best practices, and policies in support of a safe, efficient, and sustainable global air transportation system; and fostering the development of positive cooperative policies. The visitors reported that the highlights of the program were the group visit to North Carolina State University for a presentation by the university's aviation department's presentation and their visit to Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

Bangladesh: Building Bangladesh Climate Resilience

We also had the pleasure of hosting a group of seven Bangladeshi IVLP delegates who visited North Carolina to study climate resilience. The group started by visiting North Carolina's Outer Banks. They then traveled to the Raleigh area to meet with local experts on climate control. The objectives of their visit were to examine federal, state, and local government responses towards mitigating the effects of climate change including how government bodies examine climate change indicators, risks, and adaptation measures.

Brazil: Intellectual Property Rights and Innovations in the Digital Age

The Brazilian visitors meet with NC Secretary of State Elaine Marshall
In August, during the 2016 Rio Olympics, six Brazilian delegates came to the Triangle area to research intellectual property and innovation in the digital age. During their time in the Research Triangle, they met with local experts on intellectual property, including Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and industry leader and local success story, Red Hat. At these meetings, they explored innovative methods and policymakers and US industry use to promote content creation and economic growth while discouraging copyright infringement and piracy. They also learned the ways industry and policymakers educate the US public about IPR issues and how public relations efforts have reduced the use and distribution of pirated goods.

Indonesia: Promoting Science Technology Research, Development, and Innovation

Concluding a summer season that celebrated our area's academic and technological prowess , a group of five Indonesian delegates visited the Raleigh area in September to study and research science technology, research, and innovation. The primary objectives of their time in our city were to increase their understanding of science and technology policy at the federal, state, and local levels and how best to convey best practices and policy tools. They program also emphasized the importance of strong foundations in STEM education and basic research for encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship. The exchange also provided networking opportunities that could facilitate new public/private/university partnerships and/or expand education and training opportunities. One of the facets of their stay in our area that the visitors took special notice of was HQ Raleigh, an inclusive community of entrepreneurs who strive to create lasting economic and social impact by offering affordable, open office space to local small businesses and startups. This incubator, or creativity space, clearly demonstrated the kind of innovation that is possible when STEM research combines with entrepreneurship to discover or create applications in the open market.

Other Programs: IF Honored to Host Inaugural Exchange Program from Department of State
The Raleigh-Durham area is increasingly acclaimed in the national and international business press for its robust start-up environment. In recognition of the region's strong history and promising future, International Focus was chosen and hosted two programs centered on entrepreneurship-one of which was in its first year. We were also again honored to welcome a cohort of Iraqi youth this summer on a program geared to educate and foster friendships between these young future leaders.

Belarus: Venture Capitalism 
 

The Belarusian group visiting American Underground in Durham
In June of 2016, a group of Belarusian entrepreneurs visited the Raleigh area for 2 weeks under the auspices of Community Connections, an exchange program coordinated by USAID. Their objective was to learn American best practices in venture capitalism, the American business market, and the role angel investing and venture capital has in the establishment of a robust entrepreneurial environment. It was also hoped that by meeting with local entrepreneurs that our guests and hosts could build enduring and mutually beneficial networks for the future. 

During their time in  North Carolina,
Volunteering at the Interfaith Shuttle
they met with many different business
leaders, including representatives from HQ Raleigh, Research Triangle Park, and American Tobacco Company . They also found time to explore Raleigh's nightlife and well as the beautiful beaches North Carolina has to offer. We would like to thank the families who opened their homes to our Belarusian innovators.

Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative

Currently, International Focus has the privilege to of hosting ten international business leaders and entrepreneurs from nine different countries in the Americas including Cuba as part of the Young Leader in the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Professional Fellows Program. The YLAI is in its inaugural year and was started under President Obama in 2015 to "empower Latin American 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".
 
Our YLAI fellows have been working in local Triangle businesses in the Triangle area that reflect their own enterprises back in their home countries.The fellows come from many different backgrounds and industries including candy , clothing, and technology .  The delegation has reported that they are having a pleasant time in our area and are learning quite a bit.   We hope they continue to enjoy their time here and will have experiences and build connections that not only benefit their communities but that they will cherish for a lifetime.

 
Building Future World Leaders:
An IVLP Alumni Testimonial

For this issue, we reached out to His Excellency Victor Guzun, current Ambassador of the Republic of Moldova to Estonia, and a Raleigh IVLP Alum from 2008. Here are his recollections of his time with his program.

" I was lucky enough to be selected to participate in the International Visitor Leadership Program in 2008, exactly in the same period of time as now, just weeks before the Presidential Election 2008. The goal of the visit was to get in closer touch with the U.S. electoral system, U.S. main political parties, voting procedures, campaigning techniques, the role of different state and local bodies in organizing the election but also to get in touch with American style of life and realities. We started our visit in Washington D.C. where we visited the main party headquarters, Congress, NDI (National Democratic Institute) and IRI (International Republican Institute), Department of State, other state institutions and leading  NGOs. We continued our experience in Burlington (Vermont), Phoenix (Arizona),Raleigh-Durham (North Carolina), Jacksonville (Florida) and finished the visit in New York City. "

"It is not easy to mention just one, but I was really impressed by level of participation and inclusion of the people in the Presidential race, the variety of cultures in different U.S. locations, stunning natural beauties as Grand Canyon, Sonora desert or Vermont, amazing Smithsonian museums and of course, your stunning mood as a nation. IVLP influenced me in many ways but first off all I was really moved to be selected in such a wonderful program and of course, I wanted to give something in return for my country. I think I learned more about the fact that if you really want to do something, it is possible to achieve it. Visiting different educational institutions, changed my view on how the system should be changed in Moldova too. I have seen electoral campaign, debates and political behavior in U.S. from many perspectives and tried after to implement the best what I have seen, in Moldova. The care for  your culture, how day by day life is organized, how you are receiving guests also influenced me a lot. I consider this visit a very worthy and long-time investment and of course, I am so grateful to everyone who nominates me and received so friendly in U.S., including you, dear Leila. "

"I am the teacher of Geography and as I remember myself, I dreamt about Grand Canyon. I knew that is gorgeous, stunning. But when I just arrived on the edge of it, frankly speaking I was speechless for minutes. And people: you are just amazing. I am living now in Estonia with my beautiful wife and son, where I served as Moldovan Ambassador for 5 years, working closely with 2 U.S. Ambassadors, Mike Polt and Jeff Levine. And I think we became friends with both Mike and Jeff immediately, because a kind of special chemistry worked. I am sure that this chemistry was fueled by my visit to U.S. in 2008. I follow the events from U.S. every single day and dreaming that one day I will have the chance to come back to your country. Bless God America and all your people! "
Sponsorship Opportunities for the Citizen Diplomacy Series
Would you like to contribute to our wonderful Citizen Diplomacy Series?
Do you want to get your name and message out to a multicultural and internationally minded audience? Please consider sponsoring International Focus through our Citizen Diplomat Partnership Initiative.

The International Focus Citizen Diplomat Partnership Initiative


Ambassador (Platinum)
- Persistent Logo on IF webpage
- Retweets, mentions, redirects on all social media platforms for a year
- Dedicated section of newsletter to organization news (an article or ad) each month
- Profile in sponsor of the month rotation on website biannually
- Name incorporated into title of program of your choice (citizen diplomacy series, monthly coffees, etc.)
- Logo on all program materials (newsletter, flyers, handouts, invitation letters)
- Branded promotional items will be included in delegate welcome packages
- Staff invited to speak before talks at that event
- 10 tickets per special event

Envoy (Gold)
- Persistent Logo on IF webpage
- Retweets, mentions, redirects on all social media platforms for a year
- Profile in sponsor of the month rotation on website
- Organization named as sponsor of event of your choice for a year
- Logo on all program materials (newsletter, flyers, handouts, invitation letters)
- Branded promotional items will be included in delegate welcome packages
- Staff invited to speak before talks at that event
- 7 tickets per special event

Counselor (Silver)
- Persistent Logo on IF webpage
- Retweets, mentions, redirects on all social media platforms for a year
- Profile in sponsor of the month rotation on website
- Organization named as sponsor of event of your choice for a year
- Logo on all program materials (newsletter, flyers, handouts, invitation letters)
- Branded promotional items will be included in delegate welcome packages
-Staff invited to speak before talks at that event
- 5 tickets per special event

Attaché (Single time)
- Persistent Logo on IF webpage
- Retweets, mentions, redirects on all social media platforms for three months
- Profile in sponsor of the month rotation on website that month
- Organization named as sponsor of event of single event of your choice
- Logo on all program materials (newsletter, flyers, handouts, invitation letters) for that event
- Branded promotional items will be included in delegate welcome packages for that program
- Staff invited to speak before talks at that event
- 3/3/3: 3 tickets for International Festival, 3 tickets to sponsored event, 3 tickets to event of your choice

If you are interested in becoming a partner, please contact us  at lbekri@internationallfocusnc.org

Fall-Winter List of Arrivals

September


"Promoting Science Technology Research" Indonesia
"Finance Reforms and Regulations" China
"OPEN WORLD Education" Ukraine
"Innovation in Education: Digital Resources in the Classrooms"

Russia

"Investigative Journalism"

Multi-regional
October
"Civic Engagement" Thailand
October - November

"Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative"

Western Hemisphere
November
"Edward Murrow Program for Journalists" Western Hemisphere
"Including Minorities in the Public and the Private Sectors" Israel
December
"Women Leaders: Security and Peace" South and Central Asia
"Women in Agriculture" Afghanistan

September

"Promoting Science Technology Research"

Indonesia

September

"Finance Reforms and Regulations"

China

September

"OPEN WORLD Education"

Ukraine

September

"Innovation in Education: Digital Resources in the Classrooms"

Russia

September

"Investigative Journalism"

Multi-regional

October "Civic Engagement"

Thailand

October - November

"Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative"

Western Hemisphere

November

"Edward Murrow Program for Journalists"

Western Hemisphere

November

"Including Minorities in the Pubic and the Private Sectors"

Israel

December

"Women Leaders: Security and Peace"

South and Central Asia

December

"Women in Agriculture

Afghanistan

Membership
If you are not a member and would like the opportunity to join us for these events, please consider becoming a member. Members have access to international networking opportunities based right here in the Triangle, where you can discover the world in Raleigh!

For more information, please visit us directly at:

http://internationalfocusnc.org/get-involved/become-a-member
In the Next Newsletter
Our next issue is our Election Special!

We'll feature our recent visitors, the illustrious Edward R. Murrow Fellows and feature interviews with two alumni of the program who re-visited our area to cover the recent presidential election.
International Focus 
3700 National Drive, Suite 214, Raleigh, NC 27612
lbekri@internationalfocusnc.org