Creating international connections.
Cultivating local innovation.
Activating global potential.
March 2021
CITIZEN DIPLOMACY NEWS
Expand Your World Today
In This Issue...
  • Quote of the Month
  • Sharing a Global Perspective
  • Farewell Message from Natalia Lvovich, Director of International Programs
  • Two Minutes with... Board Member Jerry Silva
  • Sign Petition to Help IVLP Alumnus!
  • Rethinking Humanitarianism
  • Women's History Month
  • 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:

“Before the visit, I had positive perceptions of the country, but after seeing and learning about the historical, cultural, and economic events, I started appreciating at what cost came freedom, equality, justice and pursuit of happiness. Before the visit I used to take the USA for granted. Now I see what a long journey it was for the American people to come to this condition.”

~ Bakhromzhon Mananov, a visitor from Kyrgyzstan on a 2017 program about Promoting Community Resilience Against Radicalization and Extremism
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 honor to participate when IVCLA virtually hosted IVLP Gold Star Alumna, Mi-Yeon Kim, an international disability and gender rights activist from South Korea. Her virtual visit to Los Angeles coincided with the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A disabled person herself, Ms. Kim not only advocates on behalf of persons with disabilities in Korea, but is well known for her international work with the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

IVCLA arranged a virtual discussion regarding the history of the disability rights movement worldwide and strategies to support justice and inclusion for the disabled community between Ms. Kim, Paralympic champion Stephani Victor and Inclusion Matters. Inclusion Matters works to foster a bias-free world for children with disabilities by creating inclusive playgrounds and educational programs that unite children of all abilities. Ms. Victor is a champion Alpine skier who has participated in numerous Paralympic Winter Games. They discussed various approaches to creating inclusion in schools, sports, and communities while also pointing out the difficulties for the disabled community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ms. Kim inspired us by telling her life story as a disabled person and her continued efforts for equality for the disabled community. Ms. Kim’s significant legacy as a world renowned activist is encouraging disabled youth participation in education, athletics, and economic programs. Her accomplishments, which she credits to always being included in mainstream education and activities since childhood, are evidence of what is possible through the power of true inclusion for all communities.

We heard from Inclusion Matters youth advocates about their programs for encouraging social inclusion and friendship amongst all communities. Hux, a youth advocate participant, explained the importance of programs that facilitate the much needed exchange between the abled and disabled communities that so often are left unaddressed. Ms. Kim responded by also speaking about her interest in convening an advocate youth panel to inspire volunteerism and leadership in countries throughout the world.

Inclusion Matters CEO, Tiffany Harris told IVCLA, “I was grateful for Ms. Kim’s genuine and joyful interest in our youth panel’s activities and was deeply honored to have her extend an invitation for us to visit her in South Korea!” She also said “I suggest a new program in partnership with IVCLA that would be a wonderful opportunity to create the first Teens 4 Social Inclusion sister program between Crossroads High School in Los Angeles and a high school of Ms. Kim’s choosing in South Korea - bringing children of all abilities together through play, respect and friendship.

The U.S. Department of State also arranged a public event to celebrate Ms. Kim’s work since her 2013 IVLP experience in the United States. It featured remarks from Anne Grimes of the U.S. Department of State and an inspiring presentation by Ms. Kim on the impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) legislation globally. Participants from around the country joined the event.
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. In February, IVCLA was pleased to host 10 participants in the program from Asia on the topic of “Media Responsibility in an Age of Disinformation”.

A highlight of their virtual L.A. program was a meeting with UCLA’s Dr. Srinivasan, Professor at the Department of Information Studies and Director of the UC Digital Cultures Lab. Dr. Srinivasan frequently appears on MSNBC, NPR and Al Jazeera, is a regular speaker for TED Talks, and has written op-eds or contributed to work featured in dozens of major newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, Wired, the Washington Post, Foreign Policy and the LA Times.
Having worked in over 70 countries studying the relationships between new technologies and political, economic, and social life, Dr. Srinivasan led a fascinating keynote discussion. 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. The meeting concluded with the participants and Dr. Srinivasan following each other on Twitter, and a group photo (see above).

IVCLA also had the pleasure of gathering a few of the visitors for a virtual home hospitality in L.A., with longtime members Lee & John Rappaport and new member Lisa Sueki (see below).
Farewell Message from Natalia Lvovich, Director of International Programs
Dear IVCLA friends,

It is with mixed emotions that I write to inform you that March 4, 2021 was my last day at the International Visitors Council of Los Angeles.

I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to have worked with so many great people who believe in the impact of professional and cultural exchanges and share passion for international affairs. Thank you all for your support and encouragement these past eight years, they flew by too fast. I have learned so much from all of you, and I will miss working with you!

I’m so thankful for all the memories I’m taking with me, which I will cherish for years. My time at IVCLA has been very special, and nothing but amazing. I will continue to stay involved with IVCLA!

Sincerely,

Natalia Lvovich
Two Minutes with... Board Member Jerry Silva
We are pleased to provide the ninth 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 Jerry Silva, DOE Senior Advisor and former Senior Advisor and Manager of Compliance for Southern California Edison.
IVCLA: What do you find most compelling about IVCLA’s mission and work?

JS: I’ve been involved with IVCLA for many years, and the most compelling part for me about its mission and its work has been the meaningful and measurable impact of citizen diplomacy achieved by meeting and interacting – person-to-person – with various groups from other countries. It is pretty amazing that some have gone on to become heads of state in their countries.

Our work with international dignitaries to build bridges with community leaders and elected officials in and around Los Angeles has been a focus of mine on the board and abroad during my travels.

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?
JS: My focus and involvement with IVCLA has first and foremost been energy, sustainability/renewable power, also government affairs and stakeholder engagement & advocacy. Many young dignitaries who have visited our country and L.A. learned the many competing interests and agendas of our people.

Los Angeles is comprised of very diverse, intelligent, committed, thoughtful and passionate people from all over the world. Finding a balance and developing consensus on the best ways to move forward with energy policies, renewable power and affordability is one of the most challenging issues facing not only our country but impacting other countries as well. Engaging, and in so doing, informing various stakeholders is a critical issue for many of our delegations as well as the International Visitor Leadership program (IVLP).

As a board member, I have had the distinct honor of hosting many delegation to highlight power generation and renewable energy. I have also conducted panel discussions in Washington, D.C. on stakeholder engagement involving Members of Congress on behalf of Global Ties US. IVCLA is a member of Global Ties US, along with the nearly 100 other community based members who coordinate the IVLP throughout the United States.
IVCLA: If you were hosting an international visitor for a day in Los Angeles, what would you want them to see and do?

JS: I have been fortunate to host many international dignitaries in my home, and I feel it is the most important for them to see how Americans live. How one interacts with family and friends is important to me.

Experiencing how other cultures interact with their family and friends has allowed me to gain greater understanding of other countries and other cultures.
The first of my two most rewarding memories is that of having my former company, Southern California Edison support me in hosting a reception at our corporate office for the first IVLP group of Afghan women who came to L.A. following the fall of the Taliban. During the reception CA Assemblyman Bob Pacheco presented them with commendations (pictured left).

The other of my lasting, powerful memories is hosting an Open World delegation from Russia and arranging for them to meet then - U.S. Presidential candidate George W. Bush, who happened to be speaking at the L.A. Convention Center. Through my contacts and relationships, I was able to arrange the delegation to meet the candidate, who went on to become President.

IVCLA: Describe one of your most rewarding experiences while traveling in another country.

JS: One of my most memorable and rewarding experiences occurred in Portugal. I happen to meet someone on my travels while in Italy who I learned lived in Lisbon. When I shared with him I, too, would be in Lisbon two weeks later, he invited me to his home. I’m not one to be shy, mind you. So, when I arrived at the train station in Lisbon, he was there to pick me up and took me all over to see the major sites.

The very best part was going to his friend’s restaurant right on the ocean and being invited by the family to partake in their family feast of celebration. I tried foods that until then I had never experienced and haven’t since. I arrived at the restaurant at 2 p.m. and left after midnight. That made for an incredibly memorable experience and one that I’ll never forget. We are still friends today.
IVCLA: What is one of your most treasured objects/memories that you acquired while visiting another country?

JS: My most treasured memory and experience is when I visited Prague. Prague is the capital and largest city in the Czech Republic.

Miraculously Prague mostly escaped the breathtaking destruction of WWII, preserving most major historic structures and buildings. The damage to Prague was slight compared to the total destruction of many other cities in that conflict. The beauty of the city is essential for every American to experience. In every country I visit, my goal is to take home either one of the country’s wines or national liqueurs. I have quite a collection and one day will showcase them when I build my bar in my home.

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

JS: Still on my bucket list: Vienna, Poland, Slovenia, Greece, St. Petersburg, Red Square, Argentina, and Peru.

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

JS: I had Poland, Vienna and Slovenia on my travel itinerary, but due to the pandemic it was not possible. Let’s see what this year brings!

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?

JS: Each state and city in the U.S. is different and often holds different values. What you hear and read in the news is not completely well represented at times and can be hard for any international visitor to understand. I have been told the same challenge exists in other countries when I’ve asked a similar question of my international guests.
Sign Petition to Help IVLP Alumnus!
Dear members, friends, and supporters:

You may recall the terrible situation for the former IVLP Ekpar Asat that we shared in our June newsletter.

After returning to Xinjiang from the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), Ekpar disappeared into the shadows of the internment camps. Ekpar was stripped of his hopeful future as an entrepreneur, brother, and son. Ekpar’s sister Rayhan, who is one of the undersigned, continues to raise awareness regarding Ekpar’s wrongful sentencing.

Earlier this month, more than 70 Harvard Students Organizations sent a letter to the U.S. State Department to intensify our effort to secure Ekpar’s release. You can read about this initiative via the Guardian. This is a very personal and emotional request.

April 7th, 2021 is the fifth year of Ekpar’s disappearance. As the IVLP community continues to thrive in their careers and life, we ask that you join us in our fight for Ekpar.

Please use this form to sign the petition. Please also sign the petition here from change.org.

Please continue to raise awareness by using the hashtag #FreeEkpar on social media as well as following @ekpar.asat and @ishakeup_rayhan on Instagram and @RayhanAsat on Twitter for updates. Ekpar thanks you, Rayhan thanks you, The Asat Family thanks you, and we thank you.
Rethinking Humanitarianism
IVCLA is pleased to share an article written by our former Communications and Events Coordinator, Hannah Stoddard! Hannah is now a graduate student in International Development at Columbia University.

She and her colleague Jessica Alexander recently wrote a piece for The New Humanitarian. The article is first of a series offering clues for the future by looking back at how the humanitarian sector has grappled with key issues in years gone by. Their first article explores how the sector has dealt with sexual exploitation and abuse over the past 25 years. In the coming weeks they will take on other topics from aid worker security to localization to accountability and more.

Congratulations Hannah!
Women's History Month
#EqualEverywhere: Join the Fight
Equality is the birthright of every girl and woman on earth, but it isn’t her reality. Despite some progress, there is no place, no part of life where a girl or woman is equal to a boy or man. To overcome the obstacles that hold back half of humanity, the world needs to move faster. Equality is how we will make progress on some of the world’s biggest challenges: ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, tackling the climate crisis, and growing economies.

#EqualEverywhere brings together the United Nations Foundation and partners committed to achieving the urgent systemic change that’s needed at all levels, in all countries. Their aim is to build, nurture, and mobilize communities of support for girls and women across and between countries, sectors and issues. Through this campaign, get to know champions for girls and women who are all fighting to make the birthright of equality for girls and women a reality.

IVCLA is proud to join the cause and pledge to stand for girls and women here is Los Angeles across the world.  Join the UN Foundation, its partners, and people across the globe as we commit to #EqualEverywhere. Together we can drive greater and faster action on gender equality in every place and every part of life.
Community Events
Join the Wende Museum of the Cold War, the Aga Khan Music Programme, and the Aga Khan Council for the Western United States for a special concert and discussion on Reviving Traditional Central Asian Music.

During the Cold War, traditional Central Asian music was at risk of disappearing due to political pressures. Now musicians like the Central Asian artists performing in this virtual concert are bringing back this musical heritage.

The evening will include half a dozen short musical selections, along with a discussion by Professor Ted Levin of Dartmouth University and Professor Munir Beken of UCLA. And on the same evening, a virtual exhibition of traditional musical instruments from the region will launch on the Wende Museum’s website.

Friday, March 12, 2021
6:00 PM PST/3:00 PM EST
VIRTUAL TRADE MISSION TO KENYA
The Mayor’s Office of International Affairs — in partnership with the Consulate General of Kenya in Los Angeles and World Trade Center Los Angeles — is hosting a series of fact-finding mission events with Kenya, starting with a briefing by U.S. agencies on March 16 and followed by virtual meetings with Kenyan public and private sector leaders on April 20 and 21.

The trade mission will provide L.A. companies with market insights and connections into Kenya’s vibrant economy and the greater East Africa region. It will focus on housing and construction, sustainability, and smart city solutions. Companies located within the Los Angeles metropolitan area can learn more about the market and apply to join.

SCHEDULE:
Briefing by U.S. agencies: March 16, 2021 from 8am to 10am.
Meeting with Government Agencies in Kenya: April 20, 2021 from 8am to 10am
Meeting with the Private and Nonprofit Sectors in Kenya: April 21, 2021 from 8am to 10am
2021 Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California
Women and the Pandemic: Impact, Resilience and Moving Forward
Join Mount Saint Mary's University for their virtual event on the Status of Women and Girls in California. The event will bring together thought leaders to discuss the systemic vulnerabilities that the pandemic has revealed and consider how we create a stronger California for women and girls now and post-pandemic.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM PST
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

MARCH 2021
Mar 3,8,15: Current Trends in Reporting: U.S.-Chinese Relations
Indonesia
Mar 22-23: Countering Violent Extremism – Community Strategies
Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda
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 jelliott@ivcla.org.
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.