Creating international connections
Cultivating local innovation
Activating global potential
April 2021
Expand Your World Today
In This Issue...
  • Quote of the Month
  • Sharing a Global Perspective
  • Two Minutes with... Board Member Stephen Ozoigbo
  • Global Ties U.S. 2021 National Meeting
  • 2021 International Women of Courage
  • Re-Engaging the World
  • Earth Day
  • Community Events
  • Stay Informed on COVID-19
  • Upcoming International Virtual Programs
Click the button below to check out our past newsletters:
Quote of the Month:

“My perception of America completely changed. One of my fears in visiting the United States was the idea of being discriminated because of my religion and for being Asian. After and during all the activities we did, I never felt different and felt somewhat relaxed. Americans are really very friendly and passionate about their work. I hope to replicate/duplicate all that I experienced and inject it to my employees and fellow Maranaos who have been blinded because of false information fed to them by others.”

~ Saripada Pacasum, a visitor from the Philippines on a 2017 program about Emergency Response Preparedness and Disaster Management
Sharing a Global Perspective
Although we aren’t yet able to begin welcoming international visitors to Greater L.A., we are creating virtual programming for our IVLP participants. While it’s not the same as meeting in person, we are pleased we can continue to build dialogue and communication channels with our remarkable visitors from around the world. We look forward to welcoming them in person just as soon as it is safe. 
By Vaugh Nahapetian, IVCLA Intern
Junior at St. Francis High School in La Canada

Last month I had the opportunity to participate in a virtual meeting arranged by IVCLA for 14 Indonesian journalists with Dr. Khaled M. Abou El Fadl, Distinguished Professor of Law at UCLA Law School. The topic of the meeting was Muslim Life in the U.S. The journalists, who were participants in the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), asked intriguing questions about the history, media coverage, and future of various Muslim communities in Los Angeles and the United States.

From religious persecution to foreign-funded Islamic institutions, the discussion examined the features of Muslim life and what it means to be a Muslim in America. Dr. Fadl also provided a robust analysis of Muslim academia's future across the world by highlighting examples from his own experiences as a recognized advocate for religious freedom and humanitarian efforts globally. His personal experiences documented his efforts to pursue religious equality worldwide, and reminded us of the importance of IVCLA's role in facilitating exchanges and discussions between notable speakers, educational institutions, and the wider public.
Last November IVCLA arranged a virtual meeting for 10 IVLP participants from 12 different countries ranging from Bahrain to Zimbabwe on the very timely topic of Global Economic Cooperation. Their meeting with Economist William Yu, who is with the UCLA Anderson Forecast, was a fascinating discussion on several issues regarding the U.S. and global economies, including the post-pandemic economic recovery.

IVCLA reconnected with one of the program participants Jesús Manuel Irausquin from Venezuela. Jesús is the CEO of an iconic 40-year-old family-owned beauty store, Grupo Don Lolo. He shared with IVCLA how COVID has changed the way the business is run. Situated on a normally busy street, the loss of public flow definitely impacted not only Grupo Don Lolo, but many other businesses as well. "COVID affected us a lot last year when a radical quarantine was decreed for 3-4 months. We began to offer products and services in other ways, such as delivery, complementary services, and selling frozen foods. We developed a line of frozen pizzas we incorporated into a third-party business. We also held online events to stay connected with our clients."

The reopening of Venezuela has been highly politicized. Currently, the quarantine has not been completely lifted and people are working under the 7x7 plan, in which people work for 7 days and then are in quarantine for the following 7 days. This plan has had much criticism due to its effect on the economy. Jesús added, “Although our normal life has been displaced, we must understand technology is an ally and there is a future with online sales and everything we can bring people digitally. This has awakened people's creativity and we are learning as we go that we have to start doing things differently. COVID is here to stay for a while, so we must learn to live with it and follow our lives carefully. "

Inspired by his IVLP virtual program, Jesús plans to start a beauty trade school, where women of the community can learn to provide beauty services, while also learning entrepreneurship in order to start a small business of their own. He says, "With our experience in the beauty field and the support of suppliers, providers and organizations, I'm sure this would represent a huge impact in local development for the women in our community."
Two Minutes with... Board Member Stephen Ozoigbo
We are pleased to provide the tenth in our series of interviews with the IVCLA Board of Directors. In the coming months we look forward to providing candid conversations with each Director. This month we talk with Stephen Ozoigbo, Senior Director of Business Development for Emerging Economies for the technology company ARM.
IVCLA: What do you find most compelling about IVCLA’s mission and work?

SO: I am a self-proclaimed citizen of the world who found home in California, outside of my country of birth. Cross-cultural engagements, opportunities and platforms have always resonated with me, especially as the world and our cultures evolve, and we find more similarities than differences as a human race.

The most compelling parts of the IVCLA mission for me is the bridge-building and a clear vision for citizen-diplomacy using the Los Angeles region as an anchor. I was a beneficiary of the diverse, welcoming culture of Los Angeles almost two decades ago, and I am committed to paying that forward to others that seek IVCLA’s guidance and support.

IVCLA: Our programs directly address some of the world’s most pressing issues: countering government disinformation, creating sustainable communities, promoting tolerance through the arts, empowering women in leadership, controlling infectious diseases, eliminating human trafficking, and alleviating chronic poverty and hunger, to name just a few. What global issue is most important to you for IVCLA to develop deeper ties between L.A. and the rest of the world?
SO: I align very strongly with gender empowerment, and I have provided programmatic support for the flagship Hidden No More initiative within the L.A. region for a number of years. I remain committed to gender empowerment across all ages and economic strata because I have seen the multiplier effects of enabling the girl-child, providing mentorship to young women in their careers, advancing gender initiatives across borders and amplifying gender-led mandates within political and economic dialogues.

After participating for the past four years and with more than 200 Hidden No More (HNM) alumni within the IVCLA network, I am eager to continue to support broader initiatives that would provide value to the HNM network and advance gender-based knowledge streams for women all over the world.

IVCLA: If you were hosting an international visitor for a day in Los Angeles, what would you want them to see and do?

SO: I’d want them to see Los Angeles in its full diversity — geographic, cultural, human and socio-economic. I’d like for them to appreciate the iconic history of the region, the City and the County, as well as gain some perspectives on how dynamic and diverse ecosystems come together to make up one of the most-visited regions of the world.

I’d also plan for them to meet with leaders — political, community, religious, cultural and social — and get a 360° view of the rich melting pot of ideas that make up Los Angeles in its truest form.
IVCLA: Describe one of your most rewarding experiences while traveling in another country.

SO: I have lived and worked in four continents. Having the privilege of working in Catalonia and serving the innovation and investment interests of the region as well as the city of Barcelona remains one of the most rewarding international experiences that I have had to date. Barcelona remains a second home for me. (Note: Pictured right is Stephen at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center)
IVCLA: What country/culture would you like to explore one day, and why is it on your “bucket list”?

SO: At the top of my bucket list, I have plans to spend New Year’s Day on the coast of Australia! It has moved around the list from year to year and, now that I have young kids, I may have to wait till they are teenagers for a full family experience!

IVCLA: Where are you planning to travel internationally next and what do you hope to discover/experience?

SO: With friends and family and work-related functions across the world, I have enjoyed a great deal of travelling over the last decade. My wife usually gets to pick our destinations for family vacations. So, I guess outside of my next work-related trip, any planned international travel is completely up to her.

Of course, any future trips are dependent on us getting the virus under control for our greater humanity and ensuring that we can cohabitate safely on our planet with a keen sense of responsibility for our overall public-health systems and processes.

IVCLA: If there was only one thing you’d like residents of other countries to know about Americans and the U.S., what would it be?

SO: I may not be able to give a broad view of Americans and the U.S. based on my experiences. I will, however, offer a siloed view of places I have lived and related to — for example, Los Angeles.

I always let my friends, family and colleagues know this: L.A. allows me to be the best version of myself. I am biased and probably a beneficiary of immense cultural goodwill, but I have had the most life-changing experiences in the City of Angels

IVCLA: What benefit does meeting professionally with IVCLA’s international influencers bring to your field of work?
SO: I have a deep sense of gratification from participating in the Hidden No More programs every year, which bring a group of 50 “rock-star” women who have been selected to be flag-bearers in their industry, region and country to come together and build a network that allows them to share resources, experiences and learning. The benefits to the human catalysts and spectators alike are endless.

When I meet with these women professionally, I am immediately gratified to expand my international network by one more person, one more great female leader. I also am gratified to expand my knowledge-base by learning about their projects, disciplines and experiences while trying to connect their needs with all the solutions I have in my network.
Global Ties U.S. 2021 National Meeting
Each year the Global Ties U.S. network of community based organizations (such as IVCLA) gather with other leaders in the international exchange field and U.S. Department of State representatives for the Global Ties National Meeting, which is usually held in Washington D.C. This year’s meeting, which was held March 22-26, was the first ever Virtual National Meeting and it also marks the Global Ties U.S. 60th Anniversary!

Although connecting virtually this year, we were still able to gain insights on trends affecting international exchange, engage in professional development opportunities, and build networks for strengthening international exchanges. A highlight was a special session celebrating International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) alumni who are creating meaningful change in protecting our environment and combating climate change. The IVLP Alumni Decade of Social Innovation and Change Award, sponsored by IVLP alumnus Vicente Lopez-Ibor Mayor, was presented to two extraordinary individuals - Saad Abid, Founder and President of Bahri Association, Morocco; and Raisa Banfield, Architect and Environmental Activist, Panama. The session ended with special remarks by John Kerry, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate.

Special guest speakers during the meeting sessions included Donald Lassere, President and CEO, Muhammad Ali Center; Farah Pandith, Muhammad Ali Global Peace Laureate, Muhammad Ali Center; Larry Diamond, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and professor of Political Science and Sociology at Stanford University; and Matthew Lussenhop, Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State. The 2021 National Meeting ended with a 60th Anniversary celebration featuring remarks by the U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken. Watch his speech below.
2021 International Women of Courage
Since 2015 IVCLA has welcomed to Los Angeles incredible women from around the world who have been selected to receive the U.S. Secretary of State's International Women of Courage Award (IWOC). Due to the pandemic we weren’t able to welcome them this year, but we are pleased to share that the American Women for International Understanding will hold their fundraising celebration on Thursday, April 29th at 12:00pm EDT/9:00am PDT.

In this 15th year of IWOC presentations, the State Department is honoring the largest number of awardees ever in a single year. In addition to the fourteen individual IWOC awardees, on March 8th Secretary Blinken also presented an Honorary Posthumous IWOC Group Award to seven Afghan women who were assassinated in 2020 while serving their communities during a pivotal moment in Afghanistan’s history. Their tragic murders, which are condemned by the U.S., underscore the alarming trend of increased targeting of women in Afghanistan.

The 2021 IWOC Virtual Celebration will include exclusive interviews with several of the women conducted by award-winning journalist Lisa Ling. Read more about the International Women of Courage here.
Re-Engaging the World - Article by Dr. Sherry Mueller
Dr. Sherry Mueller recently co-authored an article that appeared in The Foreign Service Journal which proposes eight steps for the current administration to prioritize in order to reinvigorate U.S. public diplomacy and restore America’s credibility. Dr. Mueller was the former director of the National Council for International Visitors (now Global Ties U.S.) and is currently president of the Public Diplomacy Council, a U.S.-based nonprofit committed to promoting excellence in professional practice, academic study and advocacy for public diplomacy.

Read the full article here!
Celebrate the LEGACY of Earth Day
Celebrate Earth Day, April 22, 2021, with the U.S. premiere of long-time environmental activist, photographer, and filmmaker Yann Arthus-Bertrand, and his newest film LEGACY. This event is made possible with the support of ELMA (European Languages & Movies in America) - a Santa Monica-based nonprofit organization dedicated to showcasing European movies since 2007.

LEGACY vividly portrays the urgency of the climate situation, the pressing need to act in support of sustainable development and the preservation of biodiversity. Described by Bertrand as one of the most difficult films he has made, it is a call for the collective responsibility to act in the face of environmental catastrophe. He asserts that we need to have a "change of civilization" and of "our relationship to the wild world". He does not hesitate, however, to draw a parallel with the current pandemic which has led the world to comply with certain constraints to save lives.

“Of course we won’t change the world with a film but our duty is to try."
Community Events
For over 94 years, World Trade Week Southern California has been the most extensive program of its kind in the nation, actively promoting global trade, which has supported our region in crisis and will be one of the most important drivers of economic recovery in the coming years.

The topic of this year's conference is addressing supply chain infrastructure, transportation challenges, and innovative, sustainable solutions to increase the region's global competitiveness as we recover from the pandemic.

May 6, 2021
8:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Founded in 2002, the South East European Film Festival in Los Angeles (SEEfest) pioneered the concept of regional, cross-border programming with issue-driven films that tell a larger story about South East Europe, where borders of all kinds are fluid and porous just as often as poisonous. By presenting multiple points of view from this troubled region, the festival unlocks delicate doors into human existence, highlighting concerns of our time that resonate with American audiences.

The festival annually presents internationally acclaimed films, art installations, a filmmaker conference, accelerator for film and new media projects in development, film retrospectives, literary salons, and other events. SEEfest maintains an extensive network of cultural, artistic, civic and public diplomacy partners and also serves as a resource for film aficionados, educators, young scholars, youth volunteers and the media.
IVCLA is proud to be partnering with SEEfest this year to introduce one of the movies that will be screening titled MY DIGITAL NOMAD! MY DIGITAL NOMAD, by Hungarian director Kata Olah, is an intimate, first person documentary about nomadic lifestyle, explored through the relationship between a mother and daughter throughout countries and years. Images from the family archive paint a deeply personal portrait of this mother-daughter dynamic, sparking a conversation on motherly responsibility, searching for freedom, and everything in between.

SEEfest 2021 is your passport to South East Europe, stamped with a visa for the 16th annual festival. For more Festival information click here.
Don't miss the 2021 Festival, taking place April 28 – May 5, 2021! The best way to enjoy the festival is with an 8-day festival pass that gains you entrance to all films and panels, including the Opening Night Gala and reception after the film and the Closing night Gala.
The annual Czech That Film series returns online for the 10th Anniversary feast of film from April 23 - May 2, 2021, jam-packed with films and TV series of various genres.

The annual Czech film festival titled “Czech That Film” was established in 2012. Currently, it is the largest Czech cultural event in the United States. It is a film festival of best recent Czech films held throughout the United States every year, with a range of screenings and discussion with cast and crew.
Stay Informed on COVID-19
The IVCLA staff and board send good thoughts to all our members and friends. Although our work creating people-to-people connections isn’t possible right now, we look forward to hosting more international visitors as soon as it’s safe. We can all do our part to lend moral support to others, not only in Los Angeles, but around the world. This unprecedented global crisis can only be solved by coming together to share all of our knowledge, expertise, and goodwill. We are stronger together!      
An informative, infographic global report of the COVID-19 data is HERE

Check out the volunteer opportunities in Los Angeles HERE

Free COVID-19 Testing Available for Eligible Angelenos HERE

LA County COVID-19 Vaccine Information HERE
Upcoming International Virtual Programs
The following virtual programs have been arranged by the International Visitors Council of Los Angeles in partnership with the U.S. Department of State

APRIL 2021
Apr 7: Smart Ports
Apr 19: Countering Holocaust Distortion and Denial
Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Kosovo, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania
In-person IVLP has been postponed until October 2021, and our other exchange programs have been postponed until further notice. We look forward to welcoming more remarkable visitors from around the world as soon as it is safe. In the meantime, as the entire world struggles through this crisis together, IVCLA is reaching out to international alumni and we welcome suggestions to highlight in our newsletter. If you would like to recommend a visitor you have stayed in touch with, please contact Janet Elliott at [email protected].
The International Visitors Council of Los Angeles depends on its members and friends to help support its programs. If you are not an IVCLA Citizen Diplomat, please review our membership benefits here and consider joining — or make a tax-deductible donation here. We need your support now more than ever! Please make a contribution today.