Looking Ahead: A Message from the Director of the Office of International Visitors
Welcome to 2013. I want to start out the year by previewing our new initiatives and thanking you for your great work in 2012.
You will see many new ideas, products, and initiatives unveiled at the February NCIV National Meeting, and I look forward to talking with many of you there. At the meeting we will launch the much anticipated NPA-CIV Web application. I think you will be impressed with the final product, which will allow you to work from anywhere. We will also host a session at the NCIV National Meeting to discuss how to turn your experiences into stories, and show you a new NCIV tool to share your experiences. These stories will provide a wealth of localized information to share with elected officials and will help us promote the IVLP on social media and in other outreach efforts.
We are also continuing to innovate in this world of "21st century statecraft," to use Secretary Clinton's words. We just launched our new website–at exchanges.state.gov/ivlp–that focuses more on explaining our program through the eyes of participants and the NCIV Network. And in our second year of State IVLP social media, we have already begun a new campaign titled "Where in America?" that showcases you and your communities. We are looking to tell the IVLP story through more first person accounts, videos, and photos.
Looking back at 2012, I want to thank all of you for developing creative programs in response to State Department and Obama Administration priorities. For example, in 2012, the IVLP had more LGBT and women's rights projects than any other year. In Fort Worth, Texas, LGBT rights participants attended a Pride Parade. In Seattle, the World Affairs Council arranged for the African Women's Entrepreneurship Program participants to meet with the owner of Pike Place Fish Market. In Illinois, WorldChicago hosted the Edward R. Murrow Program closing for the first time, which was a huge success and included a reception with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
And in the past few years, State Department has increased the number of rapid-response projects in the newly branded "VolVis" division of our office. VolVis specializes in designing shorter-term projects that respond directly to emerging foreign policy priorities. Whether kicking off the International Women of Courage project in Pittsburgh or hosting British Parliamentarians in cities from Minneapolis to Raleigh as part of the 35th annual BAPG program, you are a part of VolVis's success.
More than ever, other offices within the State Department have included the IVLP as a means to accomplish their goals. And, as it has done since 1940, the IVLP continues to connect cultures and expand worldviews, for both foreign participants and Americans. As an example, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen recalled his IVLP experience in great detail in a speech at the 50th anniversary of the Springfield Commission on International Visitors.
Again, thank you for a great year. I'll continue to regularly highlight the accomplishments that we are achieving together as we continue the great work in 2013. ✯