Creating international connections.
Cultivating local innovation.
Activating global potential.
May 2020
Expand Your World Today
In This Issue...
  • Quote of the Month
  • Sharing a Global Perspective
  • Two Minutes with... Board Chair Michael McDowell
  • What's New with our Local Resources
  • Stay Informed on COVID-19
  • Completing the Census Makes a Difference!
  • International Opportunity
  • Stay Tuned for Upcoming Visitors
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Quote of the Month:

“As a nation, we are relearning the hard lesson that 21st-century threats are often immune to borders and bullets… While there are some who suggest this dangerous pathogen should renew calls to build “Fortress America” and retreat from the world, such a withdrawal would make us far less secure. Our survival in an interconnected world now rests on whether we make the investments and rally the world to stop COVID-19. The imperative has never been greater to meet this challenge with the full arsenal of America’s global health, humanitarian and economic toolkit. The simple truth is we can pay now or we will pay later.”

~ Excerpt of op-ed by former NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Europe Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret.), and former Commander in Chief, U.S. Central Command General Anthony Zinni, USMC (Ret.)
Sharing a Global Perspective
Although we are not able to welcome our international visitors to the L.A. area during this unprecedented COVID-19 global pandemic, we are looking 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 has reached out to our international alumni to share their stories and insights with you. 
In January Mouaad Boulakhbar participated in the International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP) on the topic Startups and U.S. Entrepreneurship . Mouaad is from Morocco where he is the Project Manager for Solar & New Energies Research Institute. He told us, “ By declaring a health emergency, closing the borders early and ceasing flights, the Moroccan government took effective action to control the spread of the pandemic. In order to provide fiscal support, the government built a specific bank account where all Moroccans from all financial backgrounds (rich, poor, company owners and employees) could contribute. The account quickly reached 2.3 billion dollars in donations! The government made it clear all Moroccans are working together, for one goal, one mission and one target: to control the pandemic. As a consequence people are respecting the quarantine.” Mouaad has been organizing conference calls for engineering students in order to share his experience and provide motivation. As a Global Goodwill Ambassador, Mouaad shares, “ I will always do my best to raise public awareness about the pandemic.”
Maria Climaco also came to L.A. this past January on an IVLP program called Strong Cities, Strong Partnerships program for mayors from the Philippines. Maria is the mayor of Zamboanga City which has a population of 900,000. She expressed her deepest gratitude for the opportunity during her time in L.A. to learn about gang reduction through her meetings with representatives of the City of L.A. and Homeboy Industries . She also gained information on security measures from law enforcement officials and the security team at L.A. LIVE . Shortly after her return home she was forced to address the COVID-19 pandemic. She began by establishing the COVID-19 Battle Plan - keeping citizens at home, healing the sick and feeding the hungry. At the time she sent her update, the Plan had rolled out 90,000 family food packs and was working hard to reach more families, especially those below the poverty threshold. She sends her prayers to all Angelenos during this pandemic. 
In February Noceba Sharon Simelane from Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) was an IVLP participant in an NGO Management program. She said her time in L.A. was memorable and insightful. Expressing appreciation for the information she gained at Homeboy Industries, she said, “It remains in my long term goals to create such a foundation which will welcome those who have backslidden in life. To create a safe space where they can have a chance to start over and be encouraged, not judged, so they can empower others.” As soon as she returned home she arranged a meeting at the primary school where she teaches to discuss successfully building local coalitions. She said, “Based on what I learned during my IVLP program we came up with strategies we would implement. However, since the Peace Corps provides our main support, our plans were crippled when all the volunteers returned to the U.S. due to COVID-19.” The staff will begin working on their strategies once the lockdown is lifted. “ For now,” she says, “ I'm doing my best to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the Kingdom of Eswatini.” 
Miztle Mejía, a journalist and social entrepreneur from Nicaragua, came to L.A. in March on the IVLP project Minority Participation in the Democratic Process . Although young people are a majority in the country, they are given few opportunities to express themselves. Miztle developed a project to promote entrepreneurship and civic participation by providing students a digital platform to express themselves in creative ways. Miztle is now uti lizing the platform to inform communities throughout Central America of COVID-19 precautions. He fears his region is not doing enough to implement restrictions such as those enforced in the U.S. In order to build awareness about the proper steps, Miztle and his team are conducting live Facebook seminars featuring young Central American leaders, Nicaraguan expats in Europe, and global health experts. IVCLA has connected him with our resource Gohar Grigorian at the UCLA International Visitors Bureau , who is making arrangements with Professor Rafael Lozano to help Mitztle inform his audience on the latest COVID-19 information by participating in the online seminar.
Anelis Castillo from Guatemala was also a participant in the March program on Minority Participation in the Democratic Process. As a City Council Member in San Antonio Sacatepéquez, Anelis shared with us, “Since I returned from L.A. on March 8 th I have not stopped working to provide sanitary measures to protect the population. Our city is near the border with Mexico and we are seeing a decrease in Mexican migrants because of the quarantine. However my city is suffering, many cannot work and have run out of food. As a government we have tried to provide food rations for those who need it the most, but we have not been able to cover the entire population that demands it. We are also working hard on the prevention of violence against women. Because of the quarantine, we are receiving complaints of gender violence. We regret that support from the Guatemalan government has not yet reached our rural communities.” Anelis is trying to unite with international organizations to help combat the growing problems. She would greatly appreciate information of an NGO providing support of this nature.
Also in March, Egohon Briñez from Colombia was a participant in the IVLP U.S. Electoral Process program. Departing L.A. just as the coronavirus shutdown was about to begin, he said that upon returning home he realized, “… we are all experiencing the same difficulties of COVID-19 together.” As a Prosecutor and Coordinator on Corruption in the Attorney General’s Office, he is planning ways to continue delivering new information to the members of his community. However, right now he is just trying to adjust to the isolation. 
In 2018 Vitalii Bezsheiko, with the Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy at the National Medical University in Ukraine, came to L.A. as a participant in the Open World Program on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He shared with us, “ In Ukraine, schools, restaurants, bars, and stores are closed. My university has mostly succeeded in establishing online education, the most problematic part is practical lessons for medical students. Kyiv is much less crowded than usual, sometimes even deserted. People go out only with masks and specifically to walk a dog and to the closest grocery store. I live far from the city center, near the forest and can go for a walk with my dog without risks. It's surprising how much psychological help pets can give to cope with isolation caused by quarantine. Apart from the pandemic, Kyiv had a dust storm, the first in my memory. In addition, a huge fire near Chernobyl and several smaller near Kyiv. According to the experts, it's because of atypically warm and dry winter. Nevertheless, I look ahead with optimism, these problems are far from the most difficult our community has encountered."
Oksana Varvarych was also a participant in the Open World Program on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder . Oksana is a psychologist at an NGO in Kyiv. She tells us, “ In the field of mental health we are trying to reach online, and by phone, the most vulnerable people (those who lost job, elderly, veterans, disabled etc.). We encourage online counseling because we already see violence increasing. Meanwhile, we are also organizing the delivery of aid for those who are in poverty. This is pretty hard because of lack of the donations. So I have a lot of work for now, it is good I have support from Johns Hopkins University as I am part of their project in Ukraine. I hope all the amazing people who I met in Los Angeles are well.
Two Minutes with... Board Chair Michael McDowell
We are pleased to provide the first in a series of online interviews with the IVCLA Board of Directors. Through the coming months we look forward to providing candid conversations with each Director, beginning with the Chair of the Board, Michael McDowell.  
IVCLA: What do you find most compelling about IVCLA’s mission and work?

Michael McDowell: I firmly believe bringing innovative leaders from around the world to meet with the best and brightest Angelenos to discuss issues of mutual interest and vital importance is critical to building awareness, appreciation, cooperation, and knowledge that ultimately will lead to a safer, more supportive, and more interconnected community of nations.

IVCLA: Our programs directly address some of the world’s most pressing issues: countering disinformation, creating sustainable communities, promoting tolerance through the arts, empowering women in leadership, controlling infectious diseases, 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?

MMcD: I think the existential issue of sustainability cuts across just about every issue facing mankind today -- from agriculture to zoology.

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

MMcD: I would want them to experience our wonderfully diverse communities to see how people of all backgrounds, means, callings, opinions, attitudes and orientations can live together in one of the greatest, if most unlikely, cities on the earth. For decades, L.A. has been one of only two U.S. cities without a majority ethnic population. (The other is Honolulu.) Together, our communities have made it work (more often than not), and I am proud of that.

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

MMcD:   Over the years, my spouse and I have been fortunate to have traveled to more than 40 countries around the world (not nearly enough). So we have enjoyed many interesting and rewarding experiences (but not nearly enough!).

One in particular was on a trip to Istanbul. For lunch one day our personal guide chose to introduce us to the fine restaurant, Asitane , which specializes in gourmet dishes once served in the Ottoman palaces. During the 700-year reign of the empire, fine chefs were the most prized, respected and rewarded members of the palace staff. To guard their best recipes from copycat underlings, these chefs seldom wrote them down. When they did, they kept them safely hidden away. A self-described “culinary archaeologist,” the chef at Asitane has researched ancient documents to unearth details of feasts and even some actual recipes.

For my lunch, I was treated to a dish based on a recipe dating back to 1539: an irresistibly ripe half-melon stuffed with masterful blend of minced meat, spices, rice, herbs, almonds, and currants baked to perfection in a wood-fired oven. The combination of flavors and textures was nothing short of extraordinary! I still recall that magnificent sweet/savory delicacy to this day. I wish I could recreate that splendid delight at home, but the chef wouldn’t give me the recipe.
IVCLA: What is one (or more) of your most treasured objects/memories you acquired while visiting another country?   

MMcD: Again, I’m fortunate to have many. Among my favorites are:
On a visit to  Montevideo , Uruguay, we acquired two hand-forged iron candlesticks fashioned by a local sculptor. They clearly are a pair, and they are undoubtedly meant to be together. But upon closer inspection, they are really quite different. I am convinced there’s a metaphor for life and love in these thoughtful, artful creations.
Another is a triptych of birds painted on large wooden box tops by a young Mexican artist, which we purchased on a trip to  Oaxaca , Mexico. I have always been fascinated by birds, the earth’s closet living relative to dinosaurs (although some friends and family have bestowed that title on me…).

In addition to the engaging, expressionistic renderings of birds, the young man added hand-written text to the surface of each painting in a language he invented for himself. No one knows what it says.

Curiously, I’m comfortable with the mystery.

Rounding out my top three treasures from our travels is a photocopy of a menu from Kanazawa , located in far western Japan, about a three-hour shinkasen ( bullet-train) ride from Tokyo.

We arrived in Kanazawa in the evening after a long day, checked into our hotel, and, in my feeble Japanese, asked if there was a nearby restaurant for dinner. (Unlike in the major cities in eastern Japan, virtually no one in Kanazawa speaks English - not even in our Hilton hotel.) We were nervously directed to a restaurant next door. My command of Japanese rivals my mastery of Martian, but I used my pathetic language skills to request an English-language menu (or perhaps I actually asked for a basket of turkeys…I’m still not sure.)
To my relief, our waiter returned to our table with what was a pristine, clearly seldom-used, photocopied menu with English translations. To my dismay, the translations were as baffling to me as were the Japanese characters that preceded them on the page.

Among the cryptic offerings:
  • Thickness deep-frying combustion
  • Firefly squid’s offing pickle
  • Vigor match
  • To radish and pig’s softness
  • It is a strip of paper plum tree flavor though it is long
  • Sleep combustion of homemade to which it is lucky
  • It rolls with the crab in the spring of the cheese
  • Asparagus fly

Like the inscriptions on the Oaxacan paintings, these lines were charming, mysterious and indecipherable.

A gastronomical coward at heart, in the end I went off-menu (I think, but I remain uncertain) and asked if I could have something like chicken teriyaki - and, of course, a photocopy of the menu. With characteristic Japanese hospitality, both requests were graciously fulfilled. The photocopied menu is now framed and hanging in our kitchen for ongoing culinary inspiration!

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?

MMcD:   As with people of every nation, Americans span the gamut of intelligence, education, ability, need, accomplishment, open-mindedness and good will. And more often than not, most Americans are fundamentally inclined to share their wealth of knowledge, ideas, skills, insights, compassion, humor, and, well, wealth with others. We all want a world of peace, tolerance, cooperation and well-being, and, despite some notable exceptions, we’re working on it.
What's New with our Local Resources
Tiyya Foundation Featured in L.A. Magazine
One of L.A.’s wonderful non-profits, Tiyaa Foundation, was featured in last month’s Los Angeles Magazine . IVCLA has been proud to collaborate with Tiyya Foundation’s Co-founder Meymuna Hussein-Cattan. B efore the pandemic put an end to social gatherings, plans were in the works for an IVCLA event at Tiyya Foundation’s social enterprise Flavors from Afar . Opening their enterprise just as the pandemic was taking hold has been difficult, but they remain committed to assisting immigrant and refugee families.

They are now open for takeout, with each week featuring a different chef. For every meal purchased through Flavors from Afar’s takeout menu, they will be able to fulfill weekly deliveries to their immigrant and refugee community. Check out their menu at the link above.
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. If you have made connections with IVCLA International Visitors over the years, now is a good time to reach out to see how they are doing. 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 easy to follow, informative, infographic report of the COVID-19 data is HERE .
Free COVID-19 Testing Available for Eligible Angelenos! HERE.
Free Testing Now Open to Critical Workers HERE
Mayor Garcetti Convenes Virtual Meeting with International
Mayors on COVID-19 Response
Mayor Garcetti, in his role as Chair of C40 , hosted a video conference with over 45 Mayors from 31 countries to share what they have learned from responding to the COVID-19 crisis in their cities. Mayor of Milan Giuseppe Sala reported key messages and recommendations from the one-month long experience of containment measures in Milan. Mayor of Seoul Won-soon Park spoke about the city’s proactive and innovative containment efforts of COVID-19. Mayor of Freetown Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr commented on the contextual challenges of preparing for a pandemic in a low resource, densely populated urban setting. Mayor Garcetti stated: “One thing has been clear since the beginning of this pandemic, this is a global crisis. The COVID-19 outbreak does not respect state borders or national boundaries. It affects all of us no matter where we come from or what language we speak.”
Check Out These Volunteer
Opportunities in Los Angeles
It is important to observe the Safer at Home rules to help end the spread of COVID-19. But you can still do your part to help your community and those who are struggling more than others during this pandemic, volunteering is a Safer-at-Home-approved activity . If you are under 65, in good health, not a member of a vulnerable population, and are meeting all advised public health requirements check out the volunteer opportunities in Los Angeles!
Donating Blood Matters!
As the COVID-19 crisis continues to affect millions of Americans, other serious health issues continue to endanger many members of our community. If you are in good health and able to donate blood, now more than ever there is a greater demand for your help! Find your location HERE!
Completing the Census Makes a Difference!
Make A Difference by Volunteering from Home!
I n adherence to the Safer at Home ordinance, the City of LA canceled its 2020 Census canvassing efforts. Instead, there's a new way to help with outreach from your own home: phone banking!

You can make the calls any day between 10am-7pm, and all volunteers receive a
$5 VISA gift card.
International Opportunity
Application Deadline Extended to May 20 th for
Experiment Digital Summer 2020 Program
The program offers U.S. high school students the chance to engage with peers from across the country and around the Middle East and North Africa region, without ever leaving home.

Through The Experiment Digital, hundreds of young people across the United States connect with high school students from Iraq, Algeria, Yemen, and other countries in the Middle East and North Africa to discuss such topics as digital citizenship, leadership and identity, community initiatives, and public narrative.

The program is conducted entirely online and mobile-accessible four hours a week from
June 22 - August 16, 2020.

Upon successful completion of the program, participants receive:
  • A Certificate of Completion in Leadership & Global Issues Analysis
  • Access to the U.S. Department of State’s International Alumni Network
  • Unique project funding opportunities from the U.S. Department of State
  • A $400 scholarship for summer 2021 toward participation in one of The Experiment in International Living’s programs around the world.
Stay Tuned for Upcoming International Visitors
We guarantee we will resume our innovative programs to personally connect Angelenos with the rest of the world just as soon as it is possible. When we do, those global connections will be more important than ever! The International Visitor Leadership Program has been postponed until July 31 st and other exchange programs are postponed until further notice. In the meantime you can reach out to IVCLA International Alumni you have hosted to let them know L.A. is thinking about them. 
Editor: Andrea Martinez
Communications & Events Coordinator
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