Big things tend to happen on Leap Day. On Leap Day in 1504, some say Christopher Columbus used knowledge of a lunar eclipse to garner supplies from Native Americans.
One hundred years ago, on Leap Day 1916, Great Britain annexed Tokelau. In 1940, Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American to win an Academy Award…on Leap Day.
Leap Day 2016 is a special milestone for us as well: our 1,000th visitor on the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP).
IVLP is the United States Department of State’s premier professional exchange program. Launched in 1940, IVLP has brought a total of more than 200,000 visitors to the United States. This includes more than 335 former or current heads of state.
Cultural Vistas is now in its fifth year working on IVLP. To date, we have implemented 147 projects. This includes the 2015 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Heroes: a group of individuals working to rid their countries of modern slavery. We’ve hosted projects promoting gender justice and female entrepreneurship in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
We’ve met groups working to protect minority rights in Russia, Ukraine, Montenegro, and Kosovo. Even more, we’ve organized many natural resource conservation and environmental protection projects.
A Brief History of Cultural Vistas + IVLP
November 2011: Our first IVLP visitors arrived at Cultural Vistas’ offices. The program was for Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture officials to improve administrative trade practices.
June 2014: Our visitors met President Bill Clinton while volunteering for Habitat for Humanity.
October 2014: We hosted the first-ever virtual exchange IVLP project. This completely virtual exchange for visitors from Iceland promoted sustainable environmental practices and conservation in the Arctic.
February 4, 2015: We created and premiered the first documentary about an IVLP project. The film followed 13 young leaders from 12 European nations sharing best practices about youth engagement and advocacy. The film was created to celebrate IVLP’s 75th anniversary.
February 12, 2015: Our team collected our first Global Ties U.S. programming award. Richard Bobo received the award for Programmer of the Year for his contributions to the IVLP program.
Five years and 1,000-plus visitors in, I still come to work every day motivated by what we do. Each project that our team implements helps individuals reach their full potential. The IVLP experience gives them specific skills, professional contacts, and ideas. In the end, it helps them believe that they can create their own future for their communities.
Our IVLP team at Cultural Vistas is so proud of all our work over the past five years, including the specific achievements listed above.
We look forward to one day soon when we welcome our 2,000th visitor.
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- Infographic: The 1,000 Visitors We’ve Welcomed through IVLP - February 29, 2016