Expand Your World Today!

October 2022

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Creating international connections

Cultivating local innovation

Activating global potential

Welcome to our first ICDLA Newsletter. We are proud to share our big news - the International Visitors Council of Los Angeles is changing its name to International Citizen Diplomacy of Los Angeles! After nearly two years of planning, with thorough IVCLA Board discussions, member surveys and outreach to the community, we are now officially ICDLA. IVCLA served us well for 42 years, but the time has come to better reflect our mission and vision through our name. Our work creating international understanding and cooperation between Greater Los Angeles and the world will continue - as we celebrate the most important part of our work - Citizen Diplomats like you!


In the coming months watch for more information about our name change including our

new website and socials!


2019 Impact Report

Become a Member


In this Issue...

  • We Have a New Name!
  • Quote of the Month
  • Photo of the Month
  • Open World Delegates from Poland Visit        Los Angeles
  • Summer Mixer at the Omni!
  • Sharing a Global Perspective
  • Two Minutes with...Board Member Mary Walden
  • IVCLA Board Member News
  • Are you a U.S. Citizen Exchange Alumni?
  • International Opportunities
  • Stay Informed on COVID-19
  • Upcoming International Programs

Click the button below to check out our past newsletters:

Past Newsletters

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Quote of the Month

“During my time in the U.S. I learned about the struggles of the Hispanic community and how they are connected to the African-American experience. I was also able to learn about the indigenous population. This visit made me understand aspects of different cultures in the U.S. and how laws differ from state to state.”

A Visitor from Nigeria in June 2022, for the project 'Countering Violent Extremism'.

Photo of the Month

Summer Mixer attendees Zuri Blandon (left) and former ICDLA intern Maya Angulo (right) display the new ICDLA logo

Open World Delegates from Poland Visit Los Angeles

Improving LGBTQ+ Social Inclusion & Combating Hate

Open World delegates and home hosts with ICDLA Board Member Yael Swerdlow.

Last month we had the great pleasure of hosting our first Congressionally sponsored Open World Program group since 2018, and our first ever Open World group from Poland. In the wake of everything the people of Poland have done for Ukrainian refugees, often opening their private homes to house them, it felt especially impactful to have ICDLA members hosting these delegates in their homes during their stay in Los Angeles.


The Open World Program is the only program ICDLA coordinates that includes homestays. We sincerely thank all of our home hosts who welcomed the Polish participants into their homes during their week in Los Angeles. Many thanks to Karen Byrnes & Jean-Baptiste Pochon, Judy Chiasson, Andrea D'Orazio, Janet Elliott, Iryna Korotun, Michael Harrison and Judy Smith. Without their generous and welcoming hospitality this program would not have been possible.


The group’s Open World program topic was LGBTQ+ Advocacy and Social Inclusion. The five amazing participants have dedicated their careers to fighting LGBTQ+ hate in Poland, uplifting the LGBTQ+ community, and most recently assisting refugees fleeing Ukraine. However, upon meeting these individuals you would not think they spend their days fighting hate and violence, as they remain some of the most upbeat, optimistic and inspiring people you could ever know. 

Government-run television programming in Poland promotes intolerant narratives about the LGBTQ+ community. Unfortunately, it is also the only free television programming offered. As the only affordable option for many, these ideas become widespread. Channels run by the political left that advocate for the LGBTQ+ community are not free, nor as readily available, and thus are often only seen by those who already agree with, and seek out, this type of programming.


During a meeting with Monica Trasandes, Director of Spanish Language and Latinx Media at GLAAD, the participants shared how pervasive LGBTQ+ discrimination is in the Polish media. With such limited power over Polish media, Monica gave the visitors some helpful tactics for improving LGBTQ+ messaging in an environment of strict government-sponsored programming. Providing messaging that emphasizes shared values and aims for “the moveable middle” (those who do not lean strongly one way or the other politically) has shown the most success in changing harmful narratives. The group also discussed the importance of using accessible language and creating media that helps people separate facts from fiction. 

Julia Kata and Emilia Wisniewska, both activists with Trans-Fuzja Foundation in Poland, said they spend a lot of time addressing transphobia in the media. Much of this involves fact-checking government programming and ensuring false narratives about trans people are shut down, which they said is not always successful. Justyna Nakielska, an Advocacy Officer for the Campaign Against Homophobia in Poland, shared how her organization is advocating for reform by reaching out to the Polish government and urging them to stop spreading homophobia and transphobia in the media. Currently they are striving to bring more diverse viewpoints to Polish public programming.

During a meeting with John Alford, Senior Policy Deputy for Congressman Brad Sherman the group had an impactful discussion about the Congressman’s support of the LGBTQ+ community in the 30th District and in the U.S. Congress. They also had the opportunity to meet with other organizations and individuals dedicated to these goals, including The Williams Institutethe UCLA Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Campus Resource Centerthe Los Angeles Gender CenterThe Los Angeles LGBT Centerthe LA County Human Relations Commission  


Despite difficult circumstances, these activists continue to fight against discrimination and work tirelessly to ensure the LGBTQ+ community in Poland feels heard and uplifted by their organizations. Their time spent in Los Angeles helped build a network of peers to support each other in this important work.

ICDLA Hosts a Celebratory Dinner for Polish Open World Delegates

Pictured from left: Polish Open World participants Bartosz Staszewski, Milosz Przepiorkowski, Julia Kata, Emilia Wisniewska and Justyna Nakielska address guests during the Solidarity Dinner

What better place to hold a dinner in honor of our Polish Open World delegates than Solidarity Polish Restaurant! The dinner gave ICDLA members, friends and colleagues, the chance to hear about the group’s important work and enjoy some great Polish food. The event was the first opportunity for ICDLA high school intern Taline Nahapetian to meet some of our Citizen Diplomat members and mingle with our international participants. She shared her experience in her article below. 

By Taline Nahapetian

Communications and Events Intern

On September 21, ICDLA hosted an Open World group from Poland at Solidarity Restaurant in Santa Monica, a Polish restaurant that serves hearty delicacies in a delightful environment. Present at this celebratory dinner were friends and members of ICDLA and five accomplished, resilient, and devoted LGBTQ+ activists and field professionals from Poland. 


I was fortunate enough to attend the dinner in honor of the Polish Open World delegates. At the dinner, I met with each delegate and heard their inspiring stories. Each individual has done groundbreaking work to combat hate and discrimination from the Polish government toward members of the LGBTQ+ community. Bartosz Staszewski, one of five delegates, is an avid filmmaker and director who established the Basta Foundation. The Basta Foundation is an independent NGO that monitors homophobic hate speech in the media. In addition, I learned about Bart’s personal experiences regarding his activism and his documentary about the effects of hate speech on LGBTQI+ youth. Another of the delegates, Milosz Piotr Prezepiorkowski, founder of Lambda Warszawa, also gave insight into his organization in Poland. Lambda Warszawa is currently the oldest standing LGBTQ+ support organization with a strong focus on psychological and legal advocacy. When speaking to Milosz about his work with LGBTQ+ refugees from Ukraine, I was left heartbroken yet inspired. Prezepiorkowski shared moving stories of his work helping refugees and providing aid so they are able to adjust to their new lives in Poland. 


In addition to conversing with the delegates from Poland, I was fortunate enough to familiarize myself with the members of ICDLA. Learning about their personal experiences and connection to ICDLA was entirely unique, and I am grateful to have been able to converse with such an eclectic, diverse and insightful crowd. 


From conversations ranging from Kilbasa to travels to combating homophobia, I was able to gain knowledge and new perspectives on such significant matters. Once again, ICDLA has fostered an environment where differences are celebrated and honored. 

Summer Mixer at the Omni!

Pictured: Visitors from Japan with ICDLA Board Members Jerry Silva (back second from left) and Rima Nashashibi (front third from left), ICDLA President Janet Elliott (front fourth from left), Vice Consul of Japan Mr. Kusoke Kuroti (second from right) and Consul of Japan Ms. Mayumi Tsubakimoto (second from left)

On August 31st, ICDLA members, board members, friends and colleagues gathered at the beautiful Omni Hotel Noe Patio for the ICDLA Summer Mixer! There we welcomed International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) participants from Japan, whose program in L.A. examined community relationships with military bases. Their specialties included international military base affairs, local military relations and journalism. ICDLA was also honored to have in attendance Consul Mayumi Tsubakimoto and Vice Consul Kusoke Kuroti from the Japanese Consulate in Los Angeles. 


Debbie Adler, the first CEO of GlobalLA, shared the important work of GlobalLA, an NGO and public-private partnership established by the Office of the Mayor and supported by L.A.’s most dynamic businesses and civic organizations. She provided information on GlobalLA’s work to enable a more equitable, vibrant, generative economy that grows and thrives as a result of an increasingly international and diverse population. She also highlighted the value of ICDLA's continued collaboration as a GlobalLA Partner.


The unusually hot weather didn’t dampen spirits as guests enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres while mingling with visitors and friends. It was a delight to once again have the opportunity to host a mixer and share what ICDLA is all about; people-to-people connections!

Sharing a Global Perspective

Building a Brighter Future

Pictured: Visitors from Malaysia with Children of the Night Founder and President Dr. Lois Lee (center)

Trafficking in Persons (TIP) is a global crisis often referred to as “modern slavery” with most victims being sexually exploited or forced to perform manual labor for very little or no money. Currently, there are an estimated 24.9 victims of human trafficking in the world at any given time with women and girls accounting for 71% of all victims.

To discuss this serious issue, ICDLA arranged an IVLP program for government and NGO specialists from Malaysia to learn about Anti-TIP Systems in the U.S. and better understand the process of identifying and protecting victims of human trafficking.

In addition to meetings with local government and law enforcement trafficking task forces here in Los Angeles, these specialists had the opportunity to meet with private non-profits dedicated to improving the lives of survivors. As one of the most successful and far-reaching programs in the world, Children of the Night offers case management and tutoring services to get sex trafficking victims off the street and into a brighter future.

Dr. Lois Lee, Founder and President of Children of the Night, gave visitors insight into the work they do, and why they actually avoid working with police when possible. She said, “they often isolate victims and force them to testify against their pimps.” She stressed they instead rely on private funding to create a safe and encouraging space for their kids to learn and grow into successful adults. One of the Visitors remarked it was interesting to hear contradicting opinions amongst those involved in fighting human trafficking. Having met earlier in the day with the Anaheim Police Department, he found it enlightening to see what different organizations feel are the best methods for protecting and assisting victims of human trafficking. While police have a responsibility to shut down trafficking rings at the source, non-profits like Children of the Night can dedicate their service to the individuals who are affected.

By the end of the meeting Dr. Lee was already making plans to visit the specialists in Malaysia to see if they could set up a program for human trafficking victims and vulnerable populations there. In addition to online education and tutoring across the U.S., Children of the Night currently provides programs in Cambodia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, the Dominican Republic, Nepal, India and Ghana with hopes of expanding their reach even farther. Planning a visit to Singapore this fall, Dr. Lee promised to also visit Malaysia at that time. One of the visitors pointed out there is a large population of homeless children who are left near the border - often as a last resort for parents or caregivers seeking refuge. They would gladly welcome her to Malaysia to see if there is a way to bring services to the region.

Two Minutes with...ICDLA Board Member Mary Walden

We are pleased to provide the fourteenth in our series of interviews with the ICDLA Board of Directors. This month, we are talking with ICDLA's newest Board Member Mary Walden, Human Resources Expert at Expert Effect.

ICDLA: What do you find most compelling about ICDLA’s mission and work?

MW: I love that ICDLA encourages and facilitates global dialogue. In a time where we hear so much about diversity and inclusion, I like that ICDLA was already striving for that, sans the current popularity.


ICDLA: 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 ICDLA to develop deeper ties between L.A. and the rest of the world?

MW: That’s so hard to choose because they’re all important. As a creative, promoting tolerance through the arts speaks to me. As someone who’s spent much of their former career supporting social justice initiatives, alleviating chronic poverty and hunger is also important to me.

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

MW: I’d want to know what they’re curious about and use that as a guide to explore. Being born and raised here gives me the advantage of knowing LA quite well. However, I’d want to also go off the beaten path and lean-in to connecting with an international visitor, making the enjoyment of their visit the priority. I’m a big fan of Little Tokyo, Leimert Park, the Dignity Health soccer stadium and The Huntington Library, Museum and Botanical Gardens to name a few.


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

MW: Last year, I attended the London Literature Festival. In 2020, nothing in person could happen due to the pandemic. The chance to connect, authentically with fellow writers was very rewarding. So many of us had suffered from the fatigue of Zoom and other platforms that meeting in person was an inexplicably joyful event. We were safely masked but it highlighted that there is no replacement for in-person, albeit socially distanced, human contact.


ICDLA: What is one (or more) of your most treasured objects/memories that you acquired while visiting another country?

MW: While in Germany, my son accidentally got on the wrong train. I attempted to follow him and meet him at another local train station a few miles out of Munich. There were no employees at the small station, however a local woman approached me, likely seeing I was in desperate need of help. She didn’t speak English; I don’t speak German. She did however speak some Italian and I am conversant in Spanish. We were able to connect using two different, but somewhat similar languages. If I tell you this woman was integral to helping me safely navigate my son back to Munich, it would be an understatement.

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

MW: Sudan. I’d love to explore the origins of the KUSH Kingdom. It’s a very underrated dynasty in history that was also very integral to Egypt.


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

MW: Various countries in Africa and Europe. In Africa, I hope to do more exploration of the various cultures and correct the disinformation we hear in the US about many African countries. In Europe, it will be a mix of travel for work, and reconnecting with family - which is always fun.


ICDLA: 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?

MW: That despite what they might see in the media, many of us (Americans) generally want the same things – basic economic sustainability, equality and peace.

ICDLA Board Member News

ICDLA Board Member Wafa Hoballah to receive Humanitarian Award

ICDLA Board Member Wafa Hoballah will be recognized by the California Lebanese Ladies Organization with their 2022 Humanitarian Award. The CLLO Humanitarian Award is bestowed upon an individual whose work and deeds have served to improve the quality of life and health of those served. The individual demonstrates a lifetime of outstanding humanitarian volunteer accomplishments, love of family and country. The sole mission of CLLO is to raise funds for elderly centers located all over Lebanon that are committed to providing the elderly with relief from pain, fear, and hunger. Wafa will be presented with the award at the annual CLLO Humanitarian Award Gala on October 16thCongratulations Wafa - it is a well-deserved honor!

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. ICDLA 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.

Career Connections Seminar:

Global Ties, U.S. and the U.S. Department of State are thrilled to announce that in-person Career Connections events for U.S. citizen exchange alumni have returned this summer. Save these dates and join them for the last event of the year with WorldBoston.

  • October 14-16 | Boston: Organized in partnership with WorldBoston, this in-person Career Connections event will focus on how ExchangeAlumni can leverage their international exchange experiences to build their professional and community impact. Registration is now open at gties.us/CC.

International Opportunities

For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, heads of state from nearly 193 UN Member States gathered in person September 19 - 23 for the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA). 


An overwhelming majority of world leaders called for peace, with resounding condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They also urged action to roll back the disastrous impact the conflict is having on global food and energy security. 

Education, gender equality, global health, and climate action were also trending — even as the General Debate itself reflected the pervasiveness of systemic problems. Just 11% of the speakers behind the podium were women. 


And for yet another year, leaders of climate-vulnerable countries pleaded for more accountability, action, and ambition as extreme weather events were pummeling their regions.

The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program, which enters its 37th year, is aimed at promoting grass-roots international exchange between Japan and other nations. The number of countries sending participants has risen over the years, as has the number of participants. The 2023-2024 application is now open!

Two positions are offered for U.S. citizens: Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) and Coordinators for International Relations (CIRs). ALTs work as assistants to Japanese teachers of English at elementary, junior high or senior high schools, while CIRs engage in international exchange activities at local government offices.

Application Deadline November 18, 2022

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 Citizen Diplomacy of Los Angeles


October 2-5: International Parental Child Abduction


October 4-8: Climate Exchange: Green Technology & Innovation

United Kingdom

October 5-9: Renewable Energy as an Economic Driver (with OES)

Bangladesh, Egypt, Eritrea, Guatemala, Japan, Morocco, Portugal, Trinidad and Tobago, Uzbekistan

October 8-11: Summit for Democracy Initiative

The Democratic Republic of the Congo

October 11-15: Young Leaders - NGOs and Civic Activism


October 18-22: LGBTQI+ Activism and Building Civil Society Cooperation


October 18-22: Cooperation on Infrastructure for the Indo-Pacific

Bangladesh, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Laos, Maldives, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Vietnam

October 23-29: Fighting Disinformation and Extremism Online


Oct. 27-Nov. 1: U.S. Policy Toward China


ICDLA knows it is important to maintain our connections with our international visitors beyond their programs. As such, ICDLA 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 ICDLA 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 Citizen Diplomacy

of Los Angeles


[email protected]


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