Creating international connections.
Cultivating local innovation.
Activating global potential.
November 2020
Expand Your World Today
In This Issue...
  • Quote of the Month
  • Sharing a Global Perspective
  • Two Minutes with... Board Member Gregory C. Scott
  • Help IVCLA Represent the USA at Dubai World Expo
  • Resource Highlight: Operation USA + Habitat for Humanity LA
  • J-1 Exchange Visa Update
  • International Opportunities
  • 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:

“I was concerned about the alt-right movements that are taking place in some states, as it seems those movements are inspiring racist rants about [migrants]. I now know that even when there are people trying to divide this wonderful country, the good people are more. The United States will come out stronger from the current difficulties.”

~ Sandra Yanira Alvarenga Recinos, a visitor from El Salvador on a 2017 program about Empowering Women Leaders in STEM
Sharing a Global Perspective
This year is IVCLA's 40th Anniversary, and it also marks the 80th Anniversary of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program's (IVLP) which is the primary program IVCLA coordinates. The theme of the IVLP Anniversary celebration is #FacesofExchange. Throughout 2020 this initiative will be recognizing 80 outstanding IVLP alumni. We are pleased to share two of IVCLA’s alumni who have been recognized for this honor.

IVCLA's 80 Faces of Exchange Alumni
Kalpona Akter is one of the most high-profile union organizers in the global garment industry. She has engaged with various international organizations including United Nations agencies to bring greater respect to garment workers in Bangladesh. As the Executive Director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS), she testified in the U.S. Congress before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. That testimony helped frame legislation against slave-labor conditions for apparel manufacturing. Through BCWS, Kalpona has relentlessly campaigned for fair wages, factory safety, and the right to form labor unions and collectively bargain.

In 2007, Kalpona was selected to participate in an IVLP with labor leaders from nonprofit organizations around the world to understand the labor movement in the United States. Her Los Angeles program included meetings with the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, and UCLA Downtown Labor Center. The IVLP helped her create a worldwide network of individuals and organizations. At one point, a group of Bangladeshi migrant workers faced imprisonment in Jordan. She connected with a fellow IVLP participant from Jordan who provided legal services and helped the workers negotiate a safe return to Bangladesh. Kalpona credits her IVLP network for making that possible. 

Nearly ten years after her IVLP, Kalpona received Human Rights Watch’s Alison Des Forges Award in 2016 for her courageous activism to protect the dignity and honor of others. Having worked in Bangladesh’s garment factories as a child, her activism is personal. She works towards economic freedom for Bangladeshi garment workers and to bring them dignity and a living wage, one factory at a time.

The importance of Hamzah Abaza’s work to help refugees in crisis in Jordon is undeniable. Jordan is the second largest refugee hosting country per capita worldwide (Lebanon is the first). In 2015 Hamzah was selected to participate in an IVLP on the topic Engaging Youth Leaders in Strengthening Communities, which gave him the opportunity to meet leaders in the U.S. from organizations who are working with youth and supporting entrepreneurship. His participation in the IVLP led him to assist institutions and community-based organization in Jordon to enhance refugee inclusion in their youth empowerment and entrepreneurship projects.

During his program in Los Angeles his meetings included interacting with leaders at the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship and NewGround. He also saw first-hand the work of Homeboy Industries to inspire at-risk youth through their job training programs and the positive impact of local law enforcement at the Santa Monica Police Activities League.

A year after his IVLP, Hamzah joined the International Cooperation Agency of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNGi) to voice his opinion on how Jordan should transition towards decentralization based on ideas he gained during his IVLP project. He was directly involved in facilitating community meetings with political leaders and managing awareness campaigns. Hamzah continues to play a critical role in responding to Jordan’s refugee crisis by building local government capacity, empowering youth, and creating work opportunities.
Three IVLP alumni filmmakers are joining forces virtually to participate in creating a film with IYMS Films. Under the leadership of International Youth Media Summit's (IYMS) co-founder Evelyn Seubert, 22 filmmakers from around the world are pooling their talents to develop SANATIONE, a film to capture today's COVID-19 world and what this world will need to heal. Evelyn, who teaches at the Global Media Studies Magnet at Cleveland Charter High School in Los Angeles, is a frequent resource for the International Visitors Council of Los Angeles's IVLP participants. IVCLA's three participants shared their thoughts:

"The work on SANATIONE project, and especially with Evelyn, has been extremely rewarding. I am so happy to have met her, thanks to IVCLA who recommended us. Thank you for the time I spent in LA – unforgettable, especially during these times, every detail is emboldened and treasured." — Rola Shamas

"SANATIONE is one of the most amazing things that has happened to me in the recent past and we have a wonderful team working together. A truly global family I would say. And I can't thank the US State Department and IVLP organizers enough for being the reason I could meet such lovely people." — Rukshana Tabassum

"I send warm regards from cold Berlin. I really miss the amazing LA. Stay safe."
— Mamoun Azmy

Two Minutes with... Board Member Gregory C. Scott
We are pleased to provide the sixth 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 one of IVCLA's newest board members Gregory C. Scott, President & CEO of Community Action Partnership of Orange County.
IVCLA: What do you find most compelling about IVCLA’s mission and work?

GCS: For so long my life was isolated, and I only felt good enough for my particular community. As I have grown and engaged with other cultures, I am inspired by how vast the world is and what it has to offer due to the countries I have visited and people I have met.

By serving IVCLA, I can grow in my own leadership. I have a strong desire to learn and make an impact in the world. The greater my understanding is of the dichotomy of poverty in our world, the greater it impacts my paradigm to come up with solutions for people who are suffering. This type of exchange conducted by IVCLA is what compels me.

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?

GCS: Certainly, all of these issues are pressing in our society - and around the world. On many levels, it’s difficult to have a singular focus due to the interconnectedness of all of these global issues. However, what is most profound to me is alleviating chronic poverty, food insecurity, and hunger while creating sustainable communities. The Los Angeles region has the highest concentration of homelessness anywhere in the country, and the issues of poverty [here] are a microcosm of what is happening around the world. Discussing these issues with other leaders from around the world creates a deeper tie among all of us, which will allow us to find solutions that will be unprecedented.
IVCLA: If you were hosting an international visitor for a day in Los Angeles, what would you want them to see and do?

GCS: Since homelessness and poverty continue to be an unsolved paradox and ill in our society, I would like them to visit Skid Row and other areas of the region with the highest level of those who are sleeping on the streets.

Certainly, the greatness of Los Angeles is in its diversity, arts, and museums. I would also like them to visit such places as the California African American Museum and Watts Towers and some of the housing developments that will give a great perspective of life in Los Angeles as well.
IVCLA: Describe one of your most rewarding experiences while traveling in another country.

GCS: My most rewarding experience was traveling to Jerusalem and learning the history in a way that impacted my faith. As a Christian, I was fascinated as I saw the Holy Bible come alive for me - learning about the land, the people, the religions, the culture, the food, and the challenges.

I was honored to share the experience with other leaders from Los Angeles and to meet leaders in Israel who were facing some of the same challenges. It was a great learning experience, and I left with a greater understanding of the convergence of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
IVCLA: What is one of your most treasured memories that you acquired while visiting another country?

GCS: One of my most treasured memories is from South Africa and visiting the prison and the personal cell where Nelson Mandela was held. I wept as I stood in the very place he fought against apartheid.

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

GCS: I would like to visit the beautiful country of Nigeria and learn more about my ancestry in that region. A big part of my DNA is from Nigeria.

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

GCS: I plan to travel to Paris and explore Spain on my next international trip and discovery. I hope to enjoy a lot of good food and wine, but also explore the history.

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?

GCS: In spite of the history of slavery and systematic racism, the United States of America has amazing diversity, opportunity and ability to change the world. It is still the best place in the world to live, raise your family and build a legacy of goodness.
Help IVCLA Represent the USA at Dubai World Expo
You can be part of an exciting global event! Taking place October 1, 2021 through March 31, 2022, the World Expo will welcome 192 participating countries and approximately 25 million visitors from across the globe.


IVCLA and Global Ties U.S. are seeking 75 Youth Ambassadors to serve as guides and cultural ambassadors for the U.S. Pavilion at the Expo in Dubai! Youth Ambassadors will be the human connection to the U.S. and its territories, reflecting its geographic and cultural diversity. Youth Ambassadors must be energetic, friendly, and people-oriented, as they will serve as the "Faces of America" to millions of Expo visitors.

To apply, you must be a U.S. citizen between 18-29 (no younger than 18 and no older than 29 as of August 1, 2021). Youth Ambassadors’ expenses (travel, lodging, per diem) are covered. Language abilities (i.e. Arabic, Farsi, Mandarin, Hindi, Russian, Urdu, Bengali, French, or Spanish) are an asset, but not required in order to apply.

Applications will remain open until Feb 26, 2021. However, applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until all positions are filled.

Want more information? Check-out the USA Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai, or GlobalTies U.S. websites or contact Janet Elliott at with any questions.

Ready to apply? The application portal is open! Apply here.

Want a closer look? Explore the U.S. Pavilion here.

Share your talent as a cultural performers for the U.S. Pavilion at the World Expo in Dubai! IVCLA will be nominating cultural performers to showcase American cultural diversity and innovation across disciplines including but not limited to music, dance, theater, literature, film, cuisine, and sport, as well as subject-matter experts/speaking engagements on innovation, technology, space and other creative/innovative platforms of expression or entertainment!

Applications are open now through March 15, 2021. Please note that performers will be selected on a rolling basis. Performers’ expenses (travel, lodging, meals) are covered.

If you or someone you know would be interested in this opportunity, please contact Janet Elliott at first for more details.

Want a closer look? Explore the U.S. Pavilion here.
Resource Highlight: California Wildfires + COVID Relief
Because of the generosity of time from our many outstanding L.A. area resources, IVCLA is able to make important global connections between them and our international visitors. From non-profit organizations, to government officials, to business and civic leaders, our resources provide insights and inspiration to our international visitors. We are proud that due in part to these connections our international visitors return home to make a difference in their countries. We are also proud of our local resources that are doing important work every day here at home. In this issue we are highlighting two of our resources that are making a great impact - not only in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but also the devastating wildfires. Both organizations often share their expertise with our visitors from around the world on such critical issues as Disaster Management, Crisis Response and Public Health. 

The COVID-19 pandemic that continues to impact communities across our state, throughout our country, and around the world is also making wildfire response efforts more challenging, yet more critical than ever before. Operation USA (OpUSA) is working diligently to distribute masks, sanitizer and other personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent the spread of COVID-19, while at the same time mobilizing to help in the aftermath of the recent fires.
As families impacted by the fires are displaced to shelter sites, OpUSA is working to get masks to the hardest-hit communities; ensuring families who must leave their homes and spend time around others are properly protected.
As of September 20, OpUSA has:

  • Provided 10,000 masks to partner organization Corazon in Northern California for direct distribution to impacted community members. They’re also committed to sourcing and sending other fire relief items, like blankets, bottled water, clean up materials and hospital/medical supplies, wherever possible. 
  • Delivered several donations containing hundreds of thousands of masks, gloves, gowns, face shields, hand sanitizer and other and disposable medical supplies to local partners, including clinics and LA Mayor Garcetti’s task force, to help protect frontline workers. 
  • Facilitated a major donation of 2.5 million face masks and other PPE from Vietnamese partners to the United States. One million masks are being distributed via Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti and New York Mayor De Blasio’s task forces, with the remaining 1.5 million masks and other PPE distributed to groups demonstrating high need in Southern California and across the U.S.
  • Signed on as fiscal sponsor for Fuel Them LA, helping to distribute nutritious meals to local frontline workers.
  • Disbursed $100,000 in funds, made possible by generous corporate donor Sony Music Group, as grants to community-based partners. Particularly those serving Black and Latinx communities focused on bolstering food security, health and education amidst the disruptions to lives and livelihoods as a result of COVID-19 in Austin, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New Orleans and New York.
Jessica Lawson, Disaster Recovery Program Manager at Habitat for Humanity LA is an IVCLA member and a resource for our visitors. Following the 2018 Woolsey Fire, FEMA approached Habitat for Humanity LA and asked them to form a Long Term Recovery Group in order to assist the affected communities for the long haul and to be available for recovery efforts after future disasters. The group became a stand-alone organization called the L.A. Region Community Recovery Organization and Habitat for Humanity L.A. remains one of its partners. Regarding the recent fires, Jessica explained the long recovery process cannot officially start until things like debris removal and toxicology reports are completed, Only then can they begin to rebuild.

Jessica described the arduous process, “Believe it or not, there were plenty of low to moderate income households in the Santa Monica Mountains and Malibu areas destroyed by Woolsey and we are just now really getting going with some of these rebuilds. The process is much harder in the mountainous areas. We are also trying to ensure as we rebuild that the new homes will be hardier and more fire resistant.

They are currently helping to rebuild homes after the Creek (2020) and Woolsey (2018) fires. For example, in Agoura Hills they have conducted essential repairs on 47 households whose homes were either damaged or destroyed at the Seminole Springs Mobile Home Park.
J-1 Exchange Visa Update
On June 22, 2020, the White House issued a proclamation suspending some non-immigrant visas through 2020 which includes certain categories of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program (EVP). While federally-funded exchange programs, like the International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP) that IVCLA implements, were not included in this specific proclamation, this is a worst-case scenario for our colleagues who implement cultural exchanges with the private sector and affects the entire international exchange field.

On October 1, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California placed an injunction on the June 22nd proclamation. In part, the judge ruled that the proclamation no longer applies to the plaintiffs and that the plaintiff’s J-1 Visa programs are now permitted to proceed as usual. The plaintiffs in this case include the following associations and their members– U.S. Chamber of Commerce, TechNet, the National Association of Manufacturers, National Retail Federation, and Intrax.
International Opportunities
This summer, join CIEE in an amazing global destination to participate in daily excursions and classes you won’t want to miss!

For 3 or 4 weeks, immerse yourself in a new language, a service project, or a topic you love, like marine science or visual arts. Come home with new skills, new friends, a more global perspective—and maybe even college credits!

Applications are now open for over 40 programs across the globe that are sure to pick the interest of every students in your classroom and open them up to the world. Next summer, they could travel to France, Spain, Japan, Costa Rica and many more amazing destinations to grow their language skills, do service work or dive into a subject they are passionate about like marine science, international relations, visual arts, or business.

Scholarships are awarded based on academic merit and/or financial need. Applications are open to all U.S. high school students graduating in 2022 or later (seniors can apply to merit scholarships only).

Community Events
Seventh Bi-Annual Awards Presentation!

Date: Saturday December 5, 2020  
Time: 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Registration/Donation of $50 or more to Lusaka City Club
P.O. Box 61264, Los Angeles, CA 90061
by November 30, 2020. All funds apply to Clean Water Storage System in Chaisa Compound, Lusaka, Zambia

Dr. Earnestine Thomas-Robertson, Chairperson, LA-Lusaka Sister City Committee

Please RSVP by email for this event.
Artist Manfred Müller presents the second season of The Eye, an outdoor gallery experience, located at the intersection of Westlawn Avenue and Greene Avenue in the West LA neighborhood of Del Rey.
The works of 18 artists are being projected onto a 12-foot wide elliptical screen installed at the corner outside Müller's home. This glowing "eye" is visible from a large intersection, which safely accommodates visitors on foot and by car.

The Eye is Müller's artistic response to the sudden closure of galleries and museums forced by the coronavirus pandemic. The first season was in July 2020. The sudden vacuum of art-centered socializing inspired Müller to collaborate with artists, family, friends, and neighbors to produce an alternative space for the shared experience of art.  

Artists featured in this outdoor exhibition screening include Melodie McDaniel, Becca Mann, Ulrike Arnold, Janet Sternburg, Thomas Demand, Armon Williams, Alison Saar, Rinko Kawauchi, Rosha Yaghmai, Vincent Ramos, Brandy Triguero, Ken Kitano, Susan Morse, Manfred Müller, Nancy Louise Jones and Zimo Zhao.

The Eye will be open to the public Thursday and Friday evenings
from October 29 through December 11 

Location: 12504 Greene Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90066
For the safety of the community, the wearing of masks and 
distancing of six feet will be mandatory.
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 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
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

Multiple Countries
Nov 16-20: Citizen Security
Nov 19: Global Economic Cooperation
Multiple Countries
TBD: Strengthening Economic and Commercial Ties: Fashion Ecosystems
In-person IVLP has been postponed until April 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