On November 8th, 2023 Cultural Vistas invited partners, alumni, friends, and community members to the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C. to discuss the organization’s impact on individuals and communities both over the past 60 years and in plans for future programming and outreach.
Bridge to Access: Connect with Rwanda
At this event, Cultural Vistas raised funds for its newest program: Connect with Rwanda. The program allows HBCU students the chance to visit Rwanda, engage with their international peers, and gain cross-cultural leadership expertise. The event featured a speech by one of the program alumni, Ekundayo Bandele, who described the program as life changing. The Connect with Rwanda premiere video details the impact the participants experienced and highlights why programs that break down barriers to access are crucial to building the world’s next generation of culturally competent leaders.
The Cultural Vistas community lent its heart out to the new program and donated $28,000 on the night of the event. Donations from the night were counted toward a $50,000 match challenge from the Cyril Taylor Foundation. Donations like these allow Cultural Vistas to continue to financially aide participants and enable international learning.
2023 Distinguished Alumni Leader: Srishti Bakshi
The event also took the time to award Srishti Bakshi with the 2023 Distinguished Alumni Leadership award. Since attending three of the Cultural Vista’s Techcamps, Srishti has been a driving force in driving gender equality and women’s technological literacy in India, having had taken a billion steps from the southern tip of India to its northern most city. During her trek, she interacted with women and discussed barriers and solutions to gender equality. She created the organization Women of my Billion (W.O.M.B.) as a result of her journey. Because of this effort and other steps, she continues to take to change the international landscape, she was a wonderful candidate for the award. The award was presented by fellow alumna, Sumi Somaskanda, who attended the Robert Bosch Fellowship and now is a chief presenter for the BBC.
2023 Global Partner Leadership Award: BAL
Additionally, the 2023 Global Partner Leadership Award was awarded to BAL, an immigration law firm located in Washington, D.C. The firm has repeatedly facilitated the process that allows our participants across borders and experience new styles of work and living. For their continued work with our J-1 Visa team, we thank them for their commitment to diversifying participant experiences and helping to foster the Cultural Vistas mission.
Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange 40th Anniversary
As Cultural Vistas looked forward to how the organization can affect more participants, the organization also took the time to honor the past. The organization’s longest running program, Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange, had reached its 40th anniversary. The program allows German and American citizens to engage in a year-long exchange through the U.S. Department of State and the German Bundestag. This exchange allows participants to experience life, school, and work in the partner country and develops more culturally conscious individuals. To honor this occasion, hosts of the program were awarded, many alumni attended the event, and a member of both the inaugural cohort and the Cultural Vistas Board of Directors, Harmon Kong, spoke about the program’s impact both in Germany and the United States.
Cultural Vistas extends its thanks to all of the speakers, award recipients, donors, and guests from the night. The benefit was meant to highlight Cultural Vistas’ accomplished past and its bright future. Thanks to our strong community, both were honored. Together, we can make intercultural experiences more accessible to everyone.