International Leaders

There’s a lot of talk about friendly diplomacy and creating relationships between nations, helping each other out. But what exactly is the United States doing to inspire these kind of friendships? What kind of international activism is the U.S. active in?

A great example is the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). Hosted by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, this program nominates current and rising foreign leaders to participate in short cultural exchanges with the United States.

Watch the video below to see the story of Mark Chilongu, an IVLP participant who started a youth center in Zambia that offers high risk youth a safe place to study and play. Mark was nominated for IVLP in 2010 and saw within American people a spirit of selfless generosity when visiting different community centers in the States. He tries now to instill this spirit of teamwork and looking after one another in the kids of his community.

Over 5,000 International Visitors come to the United States each year as a part of the program. Visitors include leaders in the fields of media, politics, education, the arts, business and more. Since the program’s fruition in 1940, 330 current and former Chiefs of State and Heads of Government have participated in the program. Distinguished alumni include Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Indian President Pratibha Patil, Australian Prime Minister Julia Eileen Gillard, and Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki.

Each visit is unique per the professional interests of the candidate and his/her goals. Itineraries usually include trips to the capital, Washington, D.C., and three additional towns or cities where they meet with their American counterparts, learn about the U.S. government, and experience American culture.

Interested in being a part of the program? While program participants are nominated, there are plenty of opportunities for you to be a gracious American host for foreign visitors. Visit the National Council for International Visitor’s website to find out more!