Creating international connections.
Cultivating local innovation.
Activating global potential.
September 2020
Expand Your World Today
In This Issue...
  • Quote of the Month
  • Sharing a Global Perspective
  • Two Minutes with... Board Member Wendy Gladney
  • Help IVCLA Represent the USA at Dubai World Expo
  • Member Highlight: Rima Nashashimi 
  • Beirut Relief Fund
  • World Trade Week Goes Virtual!
  • September 30 Deadline for Census
  • Stay Informed on COVID-19
  • Stay Tuned for Upcoming Visitors
Click the button below to check out our past newsletters:
Quote of the Month:

“The idea of equality among all people, as I was thinking, is not as perfect as I imagined in the U.S. However, my observation during my stay in California made me realize that I was wrong and that the equality and human rights are highly respected.”

~ Ahmed Baqir Bukli, a visitor from Iraq on a 2017 program about Psychological and Social Rehabilitation for Post-War Trauma Victims
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
Vered Cohen-Barzilay is an Israeli-born social entrepreneur and tenacious advocate for aviation, space and science education. Vered came to Los Angeles in 2016 on an IVLP for Media Literacy: Promoting Civil Society Through New Media. The IVLP inspired Vered, a journalist and women’s rights activist, to change career paths and focus on building religious and cultural bridges through innovation and education. Upon her return to Israel, she founded the nonprofit “Out of the Box” to promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), space education, and entrepreneurship for youth in Israel.

Vered runs the Science Accelerator, a program that has had over 350 student participants. The program is a partnership between many stakeholders, including American iLEAD Charter Schools, the NASA Ames Research Center, U.S. Embassy Jerusalem, the Israeli Ministry of Science, and the Israeli Space Agency. Through lectures and interactive lessons, Israeli and American students interact with space and science experts and entrepreneurs, acquiring the skills to effectively utilize high-tech tools and to pitch and promote their innovative ideas. Vered’s passionate promotion of STEM and space education inspires youth in Israel to reach for the stars.

Adrian Sealey, from Trinidad and Tobago, came to the United States in 2017 where he participated in an IVLP project that brought community leaders from across the world together to share best practices and learn municipal-level approaches to countering violent extremism and radicalization. While in Los Angeles, he had meetings with Homeboy Industries, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and USC Sol Price School of Public Policy. At USC he attended the Summit on Global Solutions in the Age of Homegrown Violent Extremism where counter-terrorism experts, local and international stakeholders, and nonprofit leaders came together to discuss ways to develop a more informed and engaged community and enhance public safety.

Adrian also met with Tom Tait, the City of Anaheim's Mayor at the time, where they discussed the Mayor's City of Kindness initiative. Inspired by efforts he witnessed in the United States to build a culture of kindness, Adrian returned to Trinidad and Tobago and co-founded Ryu Dan Dojo and Youth Empowerment Centre, a community engagement center for at-risk youth. He is working to engage young men in the neighborhood of Chaguanas, encouraging them to volunteer in their neighborhoods.
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, IVCLA has reached out to our international alumni to share their stories and insights with you.
In November 2018, Dr. Emilija Stojmenova Duh came to Los Angeles for the #HiddenNoMore IVLP. Emilija is Head of the Public, Private, People Partnership Digital Innovation Hub (4P DIH) in Slovenia and Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Ljubljana. During her program in L.A., Emilija had meetings at Studio School Los Angeles, the California Science Center, Caltech’s Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies and Chiara Daraio’s Lab, as well as a special panel hosted by 21st Century Fox Studios. 

Back in July, we caught up with Emilija to learn about the situation in Slovenia. “We had a very early lockdown which helped us a lot to quickly reduce the infections and the number of deaths. We are experiencing the second wave now, mainly due to summer holiday travelling, but the hospitals are better prepared, people wear masks and are (at least most of them) behaving responsibly, so it is somewhat under control.

“The problem that concerns us most is the political situation. Every Friday, there have been bike protests against the government due to the numerous issues in the last few months. To be honest, I’m far more concerned about this than the health crisis. I’m also member of the expert board of the Slovene Employment Service and I’m very concerned with the rising numbers of unemployed people. We are expecting it to worsen in the autumn.”

Emilija shared that the pandemic has greatly impacted her working life, "Since I work with digital transformation and use of digital technologies for rural development, the last few months were extremely busy for me and my team. People who had their doubts in technology now need our help more than ever, and we have all been working double time.” Since she was used to constant travel, she felt strange having not been on a plane in months. But now she is getting used to it and is enjoying the extra time to be with her husband and 5 year-old son.
IVLP Alumni Collaborate with International Youth Media Summit
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.

In January of this year she hosted a group of filmmakers from India on the program Film as Medium of Social ChangeRukshana Tabassum, a freelance writer and director, stayed in touch with Evelyn following her program and was happy to participate in the SANATIONE project. IVCLA also suggested Evelyn contact Rola Shams who was a participant from Iran in a 2016 IVLP program for documentary filmmakers. Rola now lives in Beirut and she was eager to join the project. She said, "It was a relief during these times of the pandemic and the demonstrations in Lebanon to once again have the opportunity to use my creativity." Evelyn also reconnected with Mamoun Azmy, a filmmaker from Egypt who participated in the 2019 IVLP project, Documentary and Independent Filmmaking. Mamoun is collaborating on the film from Germany where he is now living. SANATIONE is being released episodically and the first episode premiered during the IYMS virtual summit held the first week of August. Rukshana and Rola were also speakers for a Master Class on Collaborative Online Filmmaking during the IYMS virtual summit.
In 2011 Lela Kakachia from Georgia came to Los Angles as an IVLP participant on a program for NGO Management. During her time in L.A. she participated in meetings with the Western Justice Center, the Los Angeles Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, L.A. Works and several other organizations. She also had the opportunity to volunteer at the L.A. Food Bank and to enjoy a Home Hospitality dinner with long-time IVCLA member Dora Breece.

We were pleased to hear from Lela and learn about the projects she is currently working on. Lela’s organization, APDWIT, is one of the leading non-governmental and community-based organizations working in the Samegrelo and Imereti regions of western Georgia. They develop programs for people with disabilities, refugees and vulnerable women, assisting them with their education, employment and integration into society. Following her program in the U.S. she returned to Georgia and began projects to train women, particularly women with disabilities, in order to provide opportunities for them to earn a sustainable income. Projects included training for beekeepers, hair stylists, and cooking and sewing specialists. She tells us she is now focused on three projects: 1.) Supporting livestock entrepreneurship, 2.) Promoting beekeeping entrepreneurship, and 3.) Rapid Response for Women’s Business Promotion. We wish Lela continued success in her good work helping vulnerable people in western Georgia.
Two Minutes with... Board Member Wendy Gladney
We are pleased to provide the fifth 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 Wendy Gladney, CEO of Wendy’s Enterprises.
IVCLA: What do you find most compelling about IVCLA’s mission and work?

WG: I am proud of how IVCLA embraces people from all over the world and allows people of the greater Los Angeles area to connect one-on-one with them. One-on-one connections help people to get to know and understand each other better. Understanding builds bridges instead of walls.

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? 
WG: As a woman who works with women through my nonprofit organization Season of Greatness, I am always trying to promote and advocate for women and girls, especially concerning empowerment and leadership. These issues are so near and dear to my heart that, more than 20 years ago, I founded Forgiving For Living, Inc. to empower girls between the age of 12-18. I am also proud to be a member of other organizations that empower women and girls such as American Women for International Understanding and the Ebell of Los Angeles.
IVCLA: If you were hosting an international visitor for a day in Los Angeles, what would you want them to see and do?

WG: This past year I had the opportunity to entertain international visitors in my home on behalf of IVCLA, and what I really enjoyed was helping to break down misconceptions and stereotypes about Black people in America over a home cooked meal. The visitors asked questions based on what they saw on television and what they read from various sources. Much of it was quite contradictory to the truth and who we are. Again, one-on-one interactions with people help to bring better understandings.
IVCLA: Describe one of your most interesting/rewarding experiences while traveling in another country.

WG: I love to travel to other countries. One of the things that is disappointing right now is that, due to COVID-19, we are limited in our ability to travel.

One of my most rewarding experiences has been building new relationships with people across the globe and touching the lives of others, especially young people.

Recently (before COVID-19), my daughter and I traveled to Italy, Greece, Malta and other places within that region of the world. I met a couple of young girls with whom I had the opportunity to speak with and even to share my book - Forgiveness: Change Your Life Forever.

I also recently visited Ghana where we visited a school with lots of children that were excited to see us. They were both extremely rewarding!
IVCLA: What is one of your most treasured memories from visiting another country?

WG: One of my most treasured memories was when I visited South Africa and was able to visit where Nelson Mandela was jailed on Robben Island. I am committed to forgiveness and healing. His life’s work inspires me. My mantra is, “Healing Without Hate: It’s a Choice. It’s a Lifestyle. Pass it On!”
IVCLA: What country/culture would you like to explore one day, and why is it on your “bucket list”?

WG: I would like to return to Greece. The first time I visited Greece it was on a cruise and this time I would like to go back and actually stay in the country for a while to take in the culture, people, food and more!

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

WG: My daughter and I travel together often, and we had a trip planned and paid for to go to the Panama Canal. Due to COVID-19, we had to cancel or postpone that trip. So, I am still looking forward to going when the opportunity presents itself. I just want to visit Panama and ride through the Canal on our cruise. I have been told it is a place to behold. I look forward to it!

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?

WG: In the scheme of things, America is a young country and has had a little growing up to do. However, we are an amazing country with good people and, as Dr. King said, together we will reach the promise land. We have everything we need to be a great country that embraces everyone equally, fairly, and lovingly.

IVCLA: What role would you like to see IVCLA play in helping the world heal following the COVID-19 pandemic?

WG: A lot has happened during these past few months during COVID-19. With the rise of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement, we have had to come to terms with some of the injustices that still exist in our country. I believe forgiveness is going to have to play a role in the healing process here in the United States as well as across the globe. I believe IVCLA can help in that process through the work we do and the people we get to interact with that can help bring about this reality.
Help IVCLA Represent the USA at Dubai World Expo
The 2020 World Expo scheduled to be held in Dubai has been postponed until 2021 and we are thrilled the U.S. will be one of the 192 countries hosting a pavilion at the Expo.

You have a chance to get involved! 

Sharing ideas and building understanding between nations and peoples is an important component of World Expos. IVCLA is honored, as part of the Global Ties U.S. network, to be participating in the preparations for the U.S. Pavilion - Faces of America. IVCLA will assist in recruiting a diverse group of Angelenos between the ages of 18 and 29 (Youth Ambassadors may be no older than 29 as of August 1st 2021) to serve as Youth Ambassadors. We will also nominate Cultural Performers, who will perform and interact with visitors at the Pavilion.

The theme for the Dubai Expo is Connecting Minds, Creating the Future. The Youth Ambassadors and Cultural Performers will play a major role in providing the human connections to build a better understanding about the United States. A total of 75 Youth Ambassadors and 390 Cultural Performers, who may be individuals or groups, will be selected from across the U.S. The selection process for Cultural Performers, both grassroots and semi-professional talent, will begin in mid-September. More details will be provided the beginning of September.

(The Expo was originally scheduled to begin October 2020 but due to the pandemic was rescheduled for October 2021 through March 2022. Although rescheduled to begin next year, the Expo officially retains the name Expo 2020 Dubai.) 

The selection process for Youth Ambassadors will take place between now and February 26, 2021, with final selections made in May 2021. Youth Ambassadors, who will serve as guides and cultural ambassadors at the U.S. Pavilion, must be U.S. citizens ages 18-29. They will provide a human connection to the United States and its territories, reflecting our geographic and cultural diversity. Youth Ambassadors must be energetic, friendly, and people-oriented, as they will serve as the face of America to millions of Expo visitors. Although not required, the ideal Youth Ambassador would be multilingual in English and another language. The following languages may be particularly useful: Arabic, Mandarin, Farsi, Hindi, Russian, Urdu, Bengali, French, or Spanish. All applications will be reviewed, regardless of language skills.

Serving as a Youth Ambassador is a volunteer opportunity, there is no paid salary. However airfare, housing, and a $300 weekly per diem will be provided. Those selected will be assigned to one of three timelines:

Full Term: September 16, 2021 - April 2, 2022
Fall Term: September 16, 2021 - January 16, 2022
Spring Term: January 8, 2022 - April 2, 2022
(Exact dates may be subject to change)

Applications will need to include:
  • contact information of 4 references (2 professional, 2 character)
  • a resume or CV
  • an unofficial transcript of your current or most recently completed degree
  • a "one way interview" video submission of yourself (max. 15 minutes)

If you are interested in submitting an application to serve as a Youth Ambassador contact Janet Elliott at [email protected] for more details. IVCLA will not make the final selections but will recommend Youth Ambassador candidates to Global Ties U.S.
Member Highlight: Rima Nashashimi
Irvine Becomes the First City to Pass a Resolution Against Child Marriage
Did you know child marriage is still legal in 46 states including California where there is no minimum age to marry? Since 2000, more than 200,000 minors were married in the U.S., mostly young girls married to adult males.

After many months of hard work IVCLA Board Member Rima Nashashimi and her organization Global Hope 365 can be proud of their efforts to have a resolution against Child Marriage passed in the City of Irvine. On August 11th the Irvine City Council voted unanimously to support the resolution, making them the first city in the country to do so. She said, “The passing of the resolution demonstrates two important points in our efforts. Firstly, it demonstrates when citizens and elected officials are educated on the topic, they are moved to act. Secondly, it demonstrates that ending Child Marriage is a nonpartisan issue. Child Marriage is in fact a human rights issue.”

The milestone in Irvine was quickly followed by the City of Anaheim where the City Council also unanimously passed a resolution End Child Marriage Under 18, No Exception. Rima and her organization are currently working to pass a resolution in nine other cities and counties: the Counties of Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego, as well as Culver City, Fullerton, Newport Beach, Santa Cruz, Tustin and Yorba Linda. IVCLA encourages everyone to advocate for ending Child Marriage. #ECMadvocacy2020.
Beirut Relief Fund - #prayforlebanon

Disaster Relief for Beirut Explosion
A great tragedy has befallen the country of Lebanon and its people, as Beirut was rocked by an explosion on August 4th, 2020 that has killed more than 100 people and left thousands injured and devastated in the wake of its destruction.

Our hearts go out to everyone in Beirut. We are relieved to share that the family of IVCLA board member Wafa Hoballah, who is originally from Beirut, was not injured in the blast, however many of their homes were damaged. This blast, on top of the critical COVID-19 situation, and the collapse of the economy is an unbelievable toll on the people of Lebanon. The Los Angeles/Beirut Sister Cities has established a relief fund through the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) which will help provide supplies and other needs for the institution to assist the community. We also ask that you please share this message and donation link with your family and friends, so that we may garner as much support and relief as possible for those affected by this calamity.
World Trade Week Conference Goes Virtual!
Join the Chamber of Commerce as they celebrate World Trade Week virtually! On Tuesday, September 22nd, Kimberly Reed, President and Chair of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM), will join prominent business, government and civic leaders for the Chamber’s first Virtual World Trade Week (WTW) Southern California event, traditionally one of the biggest celebrations of international trade in the nation. Chair Reed has been recognized as Washingtonian's "Most Powerful Women in Washington" and one of the top "100 Women Leaders in STEM".  In addition to exciting and unique online networking opportunities and virtual exhibits, the program will also feature an expert panel of industry leaders as they share insights on cybersecurity in a post-COVID world and how companies can remain competitive in an increasingly complex and competitive business environment. The program will also recognize 2020 Stanley T. Olafson Bronze Plaque recipient Vincent Iacopella, EVP Growth and Strategy, Alba Wheels Up International Inc.
WTW Scholarship Ceremony “Celebrate the Future of Trade”

Join the exclusive premiere of the event via YouTube on Thursday, Sept. 17 at 4 pm. PST to celebrate with the Chamber!

Grab some popcorn and watch along with amazing scholarship recipients, sponsors and educators and connect during the program via YouTube Premieres chat!

Subscribe to the Chamber’s YouTube channel to receive a count-down reminder! Click the button below to join the ceremony!
Last Chance to Complete the Census!
The U.S. Constitution requires a census be taken every 10 years to count all people living in the U.S. and its five territories, whether they are U.S. citizens or not. The end date for the census is September 30th. It only takes a few minutes and it has never been easier to complete the Census. You can fill it out online, over the phone or by mail. It is important for us all. A complete and accurate count is critical for your family and our community! The results of the 2020 Census will affect how our communities are funded, our number of congressional representation, and more. By filling out the census you are helping determine how billions of dollars in federal funding flow into states and communities each year!
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
Stay Tuned for Upcoming International Visitors
In-person IVLP has been postponed until January 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 [email protected].