Creating international connections
Cultivating local innovation
Activating global potential
July 2021
Expand Your World Today
In This Issue...
  • Quote of the Month
  • Sharing a Global Perspective
  • Two Minutes with... Board Member Kathy Jones Irish
  • USC Annenberg Study: Muslim Representation in Film
  • International Opportunities
  • Community Events
  • Stay Informed on COVID-19
  • Upcoming International Programs
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Quote of the Month:

“On behalf of my team, I would like to thank you for such an amazing experience that you have offered us in Los Angels. The quality of the meetings, services and the support we had in Los Angeles were professionally unbelievable!"

~ Noussair Lazrak, a visitor from the Morocco on a 2020 program about Startups and the United States Entrepreneurship Ecosystem
Sharing a Global Perspective
In the coming months IVCLA looks forward to once again welcoming our international participants to Greater Los Angeles on a limited basis. In the meantime we are continuing to create virtual programming for our International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) participants. While it’s not the same as meeting in person, we are pleased to be able to build dialogue and communication channels with our remarkable visitors from around the world in creative ways. 
By Emilia Miller
IVCLA Branding & Communications Intern
On June 23, IVCLA hosted a virtual meeting for Azerbaijani IVLP participants with Street Poets Inc. as part of a program on Promoting Social Change Through the Arts. Street Poets is a non-profit peace-making organization that uses poetry to promote individual and community transformation. The meeting provided IVLP participants an opportunity to speak with Frank Escamilla, the “Bus Stop Prophet”, who serves as Street Poets’ Director of School & Community Programs, and Jorge Nunez, an original Street Poet participant who shared his poem, “Borderlines.”

Since 1995, Street Poets has used poetry as a means to promote social change in environments ranging from probation camps to schools. Escamilla explained that writing poetry can be healing, particularly for youth where poetry is able to deconstruct systems that tell them they are unimportant. Based on his own experiences, Escamilla also shared strategies about how to engage youth who participate in art-based social change activities. These strategies included removing the mindset that there are “bad kids,” and fostering a safe environment for vulnerability. Questions from the IVLP participants shifted the discussion to topics of how to create good habits and manage emotions healthily.

Overall, Street Poets’ commitment to helping youth feel seen through poetry reminded both IVLP participants and those at IVCLA of the power that art holds in supporting social change and peace making.
The Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists began in 2005 as an innovative public-private partnership between the Department of State and several top U.S. schools of journalism, including the Annenberg USC School for Communication and Journalism. Now part of the IVLP, the program continues to bring journalists from around the world to the U.S to examine journalistic practices in the United States. Last month, IVCLA was pleased to host six participants in the program from Brazil on the topic of “Media Responsibility in an Age of Disinformation”.

Their program began with a keynote address by Dr. Ramesh Srinivasan, Professor at the UCLA Department of Information Studies and Director of the UC Digital Cultures Lab. The lively and thought-provoking session sparked dialogue between all the journalists leading to a focused discussion on fake news, and misinformation on the internet. They discussed why and how disinformation gets spread online, including things like social media algorithms, ad revenue, and online political and ideological polarization.

The visitors came away with new ideas about the impact of social media and the internet on the way people receive and process news and information. The next step is determining if tech companies will work with officials, news media, and educators, and how together they could find solutions to stop the spread of damaging misinformation.
Two Minutes with... Board Member Kathy Jones Irish
We are pleased to provide the thirteenth 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 Kathy Jones Irish, Principal of Kathy Jones Irish Consulting, LLC.
IVCLA: What do you find most compelling about IVCLA’s mission and work?

KJI: I find the focus on the people with whom we’re typically interacting to be very rewarding. I treasure the discussions prompted by the events we organize, such as engaging with women who have sacrificed their own safety to better their communities. I am humbled by the strength of the people fighting to shape a better future for themselves and others.

Most rewarding to me are the occasions in which I’ve met with our visitors and had the opportunity to learn about their lives, their personal experiences, and their transformational roles in their communities and societies. I walk away from these conversations with a deeper understanding of other histories, present experiences, and cultures. IVCLA’s ongoing success in creating those personal linkages is very exciting. I find a powerful personal benefit from engaging in IVCLA’s work, and I value the opportunity to help IVCLA to accomplish its mission of people-to-people diplomacy.

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?

KJI: Chief among them for me is IVCLA’s sustained efforts to foster democratic government in developing countries. So many people are suffering under oppressive, authoritarian regimes, with no means to achieve a decent quality of life – let alone a promising future. I am deeply committed to promoting democracy – not necessarily as we have it in the U.S. right now where is seems our form of democracy is under siege. All people must have voting rights to be able to choose and determine what their society will be like in the future, and those rights must be guaranteed and respected. Democracy is the most powerful tool for positive social change. It must be safeguarded.

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

KJI: I would take them to a city council meeting or county supervisors meeting to observe our form of local government in action. Then we’d go on-site to an environmental project so they could witness firsthand how we are committed to innovations and to create a new paradigm to improve how we—and others—will live in the future.

Next, we’d visit a community organization that is supporting local needs in meaningful and measurable ways. After that, I’d like to engage with a forward-thinking corporate leader. If the visitors are from a country with a large emigre community in Los Angeles, I’d want them to experience that ethnic community and to speak with residents about how their lives have changed as a consequence of immigrating.

In short, I’d want the visitors to gain a multifaceted understanding of what’s happening in our city, and how we – individually and collectively – are shaping our future.

IVCLA: Describe one of your most interesting and/or rewarding experiences while traveling in another country.

KJI: It was an L.A. Sister-City trip to El Salvador in particular. While there, we visited a small elementary school at the top of a mountain. The youngsters were in rags and shoe-less. But they were grateful because they were in the school; they were so eager to learn. They spoke of their love of education. We have children in U.S. who won’t go to school and who simply don’t value education. It was a very moving experience to visit that elementary school and meet those students. I just wanted to hug each of them. They were so hungry to learn.
IVCLA: What is one of your most treasured objects or memories that you acquired while visiting another country?

KJI: While visiting Cuba, I purchased some original artworks. My experience in Cuba was remarkable in every way. The artworks tether to that experience in a very special way and bring a special energy to my home.

IVCLA: What country/culture would you like to explore one day, and why is it on your “bucket list”?

KJI: I don’t have a bucket-list because, through my work, I have had an opportunity to visit countries I never thought I would see. But if I had to make a bucket-list, I think I would put a visit to the Galapagos Islands at the very top. I deeply appreciate the natural world, and the Galapagos Islands are completely fascinating. I would want this trip to be deeply educational – not just a site-seeing trip.
IVCLA: Where are you planning to travel internationally next and what do you hope to discover/experience?

KJI: I would enjoy returning to Italy. I was there three years ago and spent a memorable time in the south – Sorrento (pictured right), the Amalfi Coast, etc. This time, I would like to go north to Tuscany and Umbria, among other regions.
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?

KJI: I would want to convey to the world that the U.S. is undergoing a long-overdue reckoning Much of the generally accepted history of this nation has been fabricated, and much of the actual truth has been ignored. This repressed history can no longer be ignored. I want people of other countries and cultures to know that we are going through a fundamental and often painful, but essential and promising social process to accurately, respectfully and thoughtfully address our past.

As a nation, we’ll be much better for it when we reach the other side.
USC Annenberg Study: Muslim Representation in Films
A new report conducted by Dr. Stacy L. Smith and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative dives into the disproportionate representation of Muslim characters on screen, as well as the problematic stereotypes that are depicted in popular films. With support from Academy Award-nominated actor Riz Ahmed, the Ford Foundation and Pillars Fund, the study “includes a quantitative and qualitative exploration of Muslim representation in 200 popular films from the U.S., U.K., Australia, and New Zealand released between 2017 and 2019.

The study, titled “Missing & Maligned: The Reality of Muslims in Popular Global Movies”, reported that “less than 2% of more than 8,500 speaking characters across the films examined were Muslim. When the movies were examined by country of origin, 5.6% of characters in 32 Australian films were Muslim, as were 1.1% of characters in 100 U.S. movies, and 1.1% of characters in 63 U.K. films. None of the 5 movies from New Zealand featured a Muslim character in a speaking role on screen.”

In direct response to the findings, The Blueprint for Muslim Inclusion was created to provide a broad set of recommendations for film industry professionals “to take practical steps towards more nuanced portrayals that amplify Muslim voices, from sunsetting terror tropes and signing first look deals with Muslim creatives to including Muslims in diversity, equity, and inclusion programming."
International Opportunities
The American Council on Germany (ACG) is currently seeking applications for the DZ BANK Fellowship on Transatlantic Business and Finance. This fellowship allows American and German academics; practitioners from banking, business, and government; and journalists to conduct research on key issues influencing the transatlantic economy – including business, finance, trade, banking, fintech, innovation, and entrepreneurship. The fellows will conduct research, engage counterparts on the opposite side of the Atlantic, and produce analytical reports.

This fellowship covers transatlantic airfare (economy class), domestic travel (economy class), and a monthly stipend of up to $7,500, for a minimum of one month and a maximum of three. Fellows have the opportunity to work from the ACG’s office in New York City and/or travel within the United States or Germany, as long as their research includes a transatlantic component.

The application deadline is Friday, July 30, 2021.
The ACG is also currently seeking applications for its McCloy Fellowship on Global Trends, which seeks to tackle overarching issues that affect communities around the world – but especially in Germany and the United States – in areas such as urbanization, climate change and sustainability, technological breakthroughs, public health, demographics changes, as well as equity and social justice.

The fellowships allow American and German experts from journalism, the public sector, think tanks, nonprofits, law, and cultural organizations to research and assess the most pressing topics on the transatlantic agenda while engaging with their counterparts overseas. Fellows receive a $5,000 stipend, which covers transatlantic airfare and domestic travel, as well as room and board, for a minimum of 21 days.

The application deadline is Tuesday, August 31, 2021.
Questions regarding these programs, or any other fellowship opportunity may be directed to [email protected].
Community Events
The 2021 Games for Change Festival will take place virtually July 12 – 14 and will be free for all attendees! Join a global community of developers, educators, students, and researchers to ignite your imagination about how games and immersive media can help to realize the potential of the years ahead and address our collective challenges: achieving equity and social justice, ensuring a thriving planet, and regaining a sense of security.

Games continue to be a powerful tool to inspire, connect, and change the world, supporting today’s most pressing challenges. The 2020 Games for Change Festival connected almost 7,000 people from across 81 countries, and G4C2021 will aim to connect even more!

Note: IVCLA is hosting a special program on Video Games this month leading up to the Games for Change Festival. Some of the participants will also be taking part in one of the workshops!
Global Ties U.S., one of IVCLA's partner organizations, has announced an opportunity for an interesting and unique virtual exchange program!

The Global Ties U.S. MENA-USA Empowering Resilient Girls Exchange (MERGE) brings together young women and girls ages 15-19 from the United States and Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region in a supportive virtual space to develop emotional resilience skills. Participants discuss and experiment with a variety of stress-relief and coping techniques while guided by trained facilitators, engaging in both synchronous (live) and asynchronous exchange.  MERGE helps girls from diverse communities and backgrounds learn about their own mental health, build skills and techniques to cope with stressors, and empowers participants to share these tools with their communities through the program’s culminating mental resilience strategies website.

In two program iterations during the 2021-2022 academic year, MERGE will meaningfully engage 400 girls and young women, with 200 from the United States, and 200 from Jordan, Morocco, and the Palestinian Territories. An additional 20 university-age facilitators will represent all participating countries and regions.

Questions? Please contact Elizabeth Black, Senior Program Manager for Virtual Exchange, Global Ties U.S., at [email protected].

Applications have been extended to Monday, July 12, 2021.

Ready to apply? Click below! 
Stay Informed on COVID-19
The COVID-19 vaccines are allowing many countries to begin their path to more normal lifestyles. However, that is not the case for all countries - as the infographic global report in the link below illustrates. IVCLA’s staff and board send good thoughts to all our colleagues and international alumni around the globe. We can all do our part to lend support to others, not only in Los Angeles, but all over the world.This unprecedented global crisis will 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

Free COVID-19 Testing Available for Angelenos HERE

Now Free COVID-19 Vaccination Without Appointment HERE
Upcoming International Virtual Programs
The following are international guests of the U.S. government whose
professional appointments in Los Angeles will be virtually arranged by the
International Visitors Council of Los Angeles

JULY 2021
July 1 & 6: Video Games for STEAM and Entrepreneurship
Argentina, The Bahamas, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela 
July 8: 21st Century Changemakers:  
Storytelling and Documentary Filmmaking
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan
July 23: Preserving Holocaust History
Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, United Kingdom
In-person programming for IVLP participants will fully resume in January 2022. IVCLA’s other exchange programs will resume later this year. 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 works together to put an end to the pandemic, IVCLA continues to reach out and stay in contact with our international alumni. If you are an IVLP Alumni who would like to share your thoughts about your L.A. IVLP experience, or if you are an IVCLA member or resource who has stayed in touch with alumni and would like to share your experience, please contact Victoria Meza 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.