Expand Your World Today!

November 2022

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Creating international connections

Cultivating local innovation

Activating global potential

New Year New Us! We are in the process of finalizing our name change and in January 2023, the International Visitors Council of Los Angeles will officially become International Citizen Diplomacy of Los Angeles!


2019 Impact Report

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In this Issue...

  • Quote of the Month
  • Photo of the Month
  • 32nd Annual Fulbright Luncheon
  • #HiddenNoMore: Empowering Women in STEM
  • Sharing a Global Perspective
  • Are you a U.S. Citizen Exchange Alumni?
  • International Opportunities
  • Stay Informed on COVID-19
  • Upcoming International Programs

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Quote of the Month

“Through this visit, I better understand the level of comprehension and interest in the U.S. on questions of human rights across the world; but also, the freedom of expression (speech, dress, etc.) of the American people.” 

A Visitor from Guinea in July 2022, for the project 'Combating Infectious Disease'

Photo of the Month

The #HiddenNoMore Women Leaders in STEM at Walt Disney Studios

32nd Annual Fulbright Luncheon

On a sunny November Saturday in Malibu, IVCLA welcomed international Fulbright students, IVCLA members, resources, friends and International Visitors to our 32nd Annual Fulbright Luncheon. Thank you to IVCLA Advisory Board Member Dr. Amarjit Marwah for once again hosting the luncheon at his beautiful home. Dr. Marwah, a former Fulbright student from India, hosts this luncheon each year to allow Fulbright students from around the world to come together and share their experiences and culture with each other and with the other invited guests. We were pleased an International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) group from Japan, on the topic of Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy and Cooperation, was able to attend the luncheon and meet the Fulbright students and IVCLA members.

We also had the pleasure of welcoming Malibu Mayor Paul Grisanti and First Lady Sara Grisanti as well as the Honorary Consul General of Senegal Ms. Mame Mbaye. Also in attendance was Alain Charbonnier, CEO of the newly formed Belgium-Luxembourg American Chamber of Commerce, BelWest.

IVCLA’s Young Professional (YP) members exemplify the importance of global engagement among our future leaders. Anna Enger, IVCLA’s newest YP member, grew up meeting International Visitors during Home Hospitality dinners when her parents were members of IVCLA. These memorable experiences drove her to join as a Young Professional member this year. Fellow YP members Katie Hoselton and Alexandra Stan also attended the luncheon and welcomed her to the group. If you are interested in learning more about IVCLA's Young Professional membership contact Eleanor Alberg at [email protected].

Fostering global relationships and introducing our international guests to some of Los Angeles’ dedicated citizen diplomats is what this luncheon is all about. The Fulbright Luncheon is a prime example of IVCLA’s mission of connecting Angelenos with a globally minded community of dedicated change-makers. 

#HiddenNoMore: Empowering Women in STEM

Inspired by the film Hidden Figures, the U.S. Department of State launched the #HiddenNoMore International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) Initiative in 2017 to celebrate the many contributions of courageous and intelligent women in Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)! Now expanded to include the arts, STEAM education for girls has become a hot topic on a global scale.

On November 6th, IVCLA welcomed this year’s #HiddenNoMore: Empowering Women in STEM IVLP group of 40 women from 40 different countries to Los Angeles to cultivate relationships with their American counterparts and examine women’s contributions to STEAM. While here, the women met with organizations and people dedicated to improving representation and empowering women in STEAM as well as providing girls with the confidence and resources to pursue STEAM education.

IVCLA Board Member, CEO and Founder of Maestro Games, SPC and co-founder of the Women’s Empowerment Foundation, Yael Swerdlow, moderated a diverse panel discussion on inspiring the next generation in STEAM and storytelling. During the panel, the group bonded over their shared experiences and the difficulties they faced on the road to success in male dominated industries. The panelists were Nathan Baynard, VP of Global Brand and Marketing of Barbie/Dolls for Mattel, who discussed their DREAM Gap initiative, which seeks to provide young girls with positive female representation in a wide range of careers. Beverly Nuako, Entertainment Executive and Producer at Game1 Media shared her experiences as a woman, and especially a woman of color, in the technology and sports business. For her, having a support system when entering her field, was a critical component of her success. She shared, "When little representation exists, and many people doubt you, it is critical to have people in your corner who encourage your passions."

Panelist Icy Zhang, Graduate Student in the UCLA Center for Scholars and Storytellers shared how inspired participating in the panel made her feel, both to be able to share her experiences as a woman in STEAM, and to hear the personal stories of the women in the room. Moderator, Yael, passionately advocated for the inclusion of Arts in STEAM as so many kinds of art are inextricably tied to aspects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Stressing the importance of storytelling, Jessica Burnquist, VP of Impact Educations at Creative Visions, explained how storytelling not only showcases female representation in STEAM, but can also provide young women and girls with the personal histories and testimonies that can help them achieve success. Several of the #HiddenNoMore women shared the impact the program has had on them by building camaraderie and empowering them to share their stories with each other and with their communities when they return home. 

In keeping with the theme of storytelling, the #HiddenNoMore women enjoyed a day at Walt Disney Studios. While there, the visitors were given exclusive tours of a sound-mixing studio and the Disney StudioLAB where they experienced some of the newest technology and innovations that help create compelling stories. Following the tours, the women sat down for a panel discussion with four panelists: Rebecca Bever, Manager of Software Development for Studio Technology and Marvel Studios; Holly Lloyd, Technical Director for Pixar Animation Studios; Munira Tayabji, Director of Production Tech for Walt Disney Animation Studios and moderator Sonia Doshi, Director of Strategic Operations and Design for Studio Technology. Each of these women shared their personal journeys that led them to Disney, and how they navigated not only being women in technology and media, but also inhabiting leadership roles within a major corporation. Each of them shared how storytelling influenced their career paths and ultimately led them to cinema.

Their day at Disney Studios ended with a panel discussion featuring five of the #HiddenNoMore women providing stories about the paths they took to achieve their success in the field of STEM. The discussion was inspiring and emotional as they candidly shared the struggles and barriers they had to overcome – and the difficulties they still face. They all emphasized how important this program was in letting them know they are not alone in their struggles. They now know they have a global support system with their fellow #HiddenNoMore colleagues and the people they have met in the U.S. As one of the women remarked, "we are truly not hidden anymore!”  

Sharing a Global Perspective

LGBTQI+ Advocacy in Muslim Communities

Visitors from Turkey, with program coordinator Victoria Meza, speaking with Ani Zonneveld via Zoom

Pride march is an annual tradition in the month of June organized in cities around the world to celebrate the LGBTQI+ community and advocate against discrimination. However, in Turkey, pride marches have been banned since 2015. On June 26, 2022, thousands were arrested and attacked by local police in Istanbul for holding a peaceful pride march. Despite being considered relatively accepting towards the LGBTQI+ community compared to other predominantly Muslim nations, individuals still face many forms of open discrimination and violence in Turkey. In the army, for example, homosexuality is still designated a psychosexual disorder and members of the community are banned from service.

To discuss LGBTQI+ activism amid growing challenges to the community globally, International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) participants from Turkey visited Los Angeles for a program on LGBTQI+ Activism and Building Civil Society Cooperation. While here, the visitors met with LGBTQI+ organizations in Los Angeles that work to address issues of discrimination against the community and advocate for LGBTQI+ rights. 

To address LGBTQI+ discrimination in Islamic communities, participants met with Ani Zonneveld, President and Co-Founder of Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV). MPV is an organization dedicated to advocating for human rights and social justice within Muslim societies and culture. The organization seeks to change the narrative that Islam is not an accepting faith; and helps establish progressive and inclusive Muslim communities around the world. One of the ways they encourage this is by educating the public on the true values of Islam as evidenced in Islamic texts. 

Ani explained the Qur'an makes no specific mention of homosexuality or bisexuality. Furthermore, the Qur’an expressly recognizes the existence of sexual diversity; in one instance, referencing “males who do not desire women,” and offering neither judgement nor condemnation of this fact. In order to end the religious justification for homophobia in Muslim communities, the organization demonstrates that Islam supports many kinds of diversity—and that sexual and gender diversity in particular were acknowledged in the Qur’an and by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). This meeting gave the visitors some important methods for addressing discrimination in religion and how to educate people on the realities of Islam as an accepting and diverse belief system. 

Another major concern in the LGBTQI+ community is the dangers discrimination and violence pose to youth in the community. Thousands of LGBTQI+ youth are forced to flee from dangerous situations in their home life or are abandoned by their families due to their sexual orientation which makes them especially vulnerable to housing and food insecurities. The Los Angeles LGBT Center works to address this major social issue with free counseling and health services, food, clothing, hygiene services, employment services and more to help homeless LGBTQI+ youth in Los Angeles. The Center guided visitors through some of the programming which has had the most success in helping homeless youth.

Threats to the LGBTQI+ community continue on a global scale. These meetings offered extremely important connections between the Turkish specialists and Los Angeles-based organizations to help improve social advocacy and protect the lives of the LGBTQI+ community here and abroad.

Building Social Responsibility in Online Media

Visitors from Germany outside the Museum of Tolerance with Director Liebe Geft (third from right)

Social media has made it incredibly easy for anyone to post and share unsubstantiated content. This rise of disinformation online has led to online discrimination and hate speech which is very difficult to regulate. One of the best ways to combat online hate and disinformation is by educating people in media literacy.

To discuss the importance of media literacy and combating hate speech, three specialists on the topic from Germany came to Los Angeles for an International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) on Fighting Disinformation and Extremism Online. During their program they met with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Hate Crimes Task Force, Center for Media Literacy, the Museum of Tolerance, Anti-Defamation League, LA County Human Relations Commission and the Los Angeles Times.

The Center for Media Literacy (CML) is dedicated to educating adults and youth on how to access, analyze and participate in 21st century media. Media literacy means not only sourcing media but weighing media's explicit and implicit messages against one's own ethical, moral and/or democratic principles. As a program dedicated to analyzing the prevalence of hate and disinformation in online media, the visitors’ meeting with CML emphasized an approach that does not discredit the value of accessible online media, but instead ensures people are able to access factual media and recognize harmful and false narratives.

During a meeting with the Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance, they discussed the museum's youth programming with Director Liebe Geft, which aims to give kids tools to recognize hate speech and false narratives online and educate them on the realities of the holocaust and many other historical injustices. The Museum of Tolerance not only presents thoughtful testimony from survivors of racial, religious or other forms of social persecution in their educational materials, but challenges viewers to explore the origins of hate and how fear is used to spread it. As Director Geft pointed out, “this museum, when it opened, redefined the role of a museum as a catalyst for change.”

In the Museum of Tolerance’s Combat Hate workshop, students are given action plans with real world examples of the Center for Media Literacy’s Five Key Questions. This virtual workshop challenges students to interpret hateful messages in media and their impact. At the end, students are given action planning worksheets to identify and address issues they come across in their own lives. These worksheets ask students to evaluate their own sense of right and wrong and make strides to counteract false narratives online, among friends and family and in our society.

For the German visitors, these meetings offered excellent examples they can apply in their work to combat hate speech and reduce extremism online. Online media isn’t going anywhere, which means it is critical that we ensure youth and adults are prepared for our global digital world. 

A Thousand Splendid Suns Performance


Based on the novel by Khaled Hosseini

Music by Sheila Silver; Libretto by Stephen Kitsakos

Directed by Roya Sadat


Afghan Filmmaker and International Women of Courage Award Alum, Roya Sadat, is directing a new opera, A Thousand Splendid Suns, set for a world premiere at the Seattle Opera on February 25, 2023. IVCLA had the honor of hosting Roya for a panel discussion with three of her fellow IWOC alumni at our International Women of Courage (IWOC) Alumni Luncheon in May. At the luncheon, our members, friends and colleagues had the pleasure of speaking to her about her incredible work. With this most recent endeavor, Roya brings her internationally acclaimed directoral expertise, from films such as, A Letter to the President (2017), Playing the Taar (2008) and Three Dots (2003), to the stage. Read a summary of the opera below.

Beauty. Sacrifice. Resilience. Seattle Opera World Premiere. Set against Afghanistan’s volatile history, this new opera tells the breathtaking story of Mariam and Laila, two Afghan women. Brought together under the brutal Taliban rule, the bond between Laila and Mariam leads to unthinkable sacrifices and ultimately, one family’s survival. Based on Khaled Hosseini's best-selling novel, this story has captured the hearts of millions including American composer Sheila Silver and librettist Stephen Kitsakos who adapted the novel for the opera stage. Directing the production is Afghan filmmaker Roya Sadat, whose trailblazing work as one of Afghanistan’s first female film directors has garnered more than 20 international film awards, including the 2021 Kim Dae-jung Nobel Peace Film Award and the 2018 International Women of Courage Award presented by the United States Department of State.


“The locations in this novel are near to my heart; I grew up in Herat and live in the Kabul neighborhood where the protagonists, Mariam and Laila, lives intersect. Afghanistan’s women have shown strength and resilience in the face of war and an ever-changing political environment. There has never been a more important time for this story to be taking the stage and shared with American audiences." (Roya Sadat)


Read more about the performance and Roya’s outlook as a director HERE.

Click HERE for a behind the scenes look with A Thousand Splendid Suns creative team.

February 25 & 26, 2023

March 3, 5, 8 & 11, 2023

Get Tickets

Are you a U.S. Citizen Exchange Alumni?

Did You Participate in a U.S. Government-sponsored Exchange Program?


The Office of Alumni Affairs at the U.S. Department of State is developing new opportunities for U.S. citizens who participated in U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs. IVCLA is assisting by reaching out to our Greater Los Angeles alumni. If you are a past participant in a U.S. government-sponsored exchange program contact Ellie Alberg, [email protected].

The exchange programs include, but are not limited to, these offered by the ECA Bureau. Returned Peace Corps volunteers and Boren Fellows are also qualified alumni. Whether you participated long ago or you recently completed your exchange program, we will keep you informed of opportunities such as events, programs and grants.

International Opportunities

Expand your horizons – study abroad! The U.S. Department of State offers over 1,000 merit-based scholarships for American high school students to study abroad in more than 25 countries from three weeks to an academic year. Students live with host families, engage with local schools, and gain skills to be competitive in the global workforce.

View this flyer for more information.

Previous language study is not required for most programs.

Deadlines vary by program.

Learn More

Stay Informed on COVID-19

As the world moves towards less stringent pandemic restrictions and more normal lifestyles, the information below remains valuable for tracking global problem areas. Being prudent and remembering COVID is still with us continues to be crucial in helping to prevent new variants from emerging. It is important to continue sharing knowledge, expertise, and goodwill throughout the world. We are stronger together!      


An informative, infographic global report of the COVID-19 data is HERE

Upcoming International Programs

The following are international guests of the U.S. government whose

professional appointments in Los Angeles will be arranged by

International Visitors Council of Los Angeles


November 2-8: Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy and Cooperation


November 6-12: Hidden No More: Empowering Women Leaders in STEM

Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Fiji, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Malaysia, Maldives, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Palestinian Territories, Panama, Philippines, Republic of North Macedonia, Senegal, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Zambia

November 15-19: LGBTQI+ Policies and Civil Society in the United States


IVCLA knows it is important to maintain our connections with our international visitors beyond their programs. As such, IVCLA continues to reach out to our international alumni. If you are an Alumni who would like to share your thoughts about your L.A. 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 Eleanor Alberg at [email protected].

Editor: Eleanor Alberg
Communications & Events Coordinator
Share your comments with me at [email protected]!

International Visitors Council

of Los Angeles


[email protected]


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